Tag Archives: birds

Clane Nest Box Scheme 2012 – the results!!

In early 2012 Clane Tidy Towns, in association with the Kildare Branch of Birdwatch Ireland, launched our Nest Box Scheme.

A selection of the nest boxes donated to Clane Nest Box Scheme

A survey identified several species that could be reasonably expected to be attracted to nest boxes in Clane, appropriate sites were identified around the town, and suggested nest box designs were drawn up.

People were invited to create and donate nest boxes, and a wonderful total of 18 boxes (including 4 from the local Men’s Shed) were assembled, gratefully received, painted up and carefully installed.

Over the course of the breeding season these boxes were monitored under license from the National Parks and Wildlife Service, and now that the season is over (at least for these nest boxes) we are delighted to share our results.

"With beautiful views over the Liffey..."

Despite the inclement weather which drastically affected the population of caterpillars on which most nestlings are fed, we are delighted to report that nests were constructed in 9 of the boxes, and young were successfully raised in 7 of these nests. Eggs were not laid in one of the nests, and in another the nest was abandoned for some reason before the eggs hatched. Of the 18 nest boxes originally installed a total of 37 young were successfully reared – a wonderful result for the first year of the scheme. All the nests were occupied by Blue Tit, one of our targeted species. Details of the nesting results were contributed to the BTO’s Nest Record Scheme to assist in long term research.

Of the 18 nest boxes installed we actually went ahead and installed a camera in one of them, and connected it up to a recorder. By shear luck, a pair of Blue Tits started to construct their nest in the box the day after the camera went in!! The complete nest was not visible to the camera but at least 9 eggs were seen to be laid and at least 8 young were counted leaving the nest a few short weeks later. The transformation from empty wooden box to chaotic home full of at least 10 birds was wonderful to witness, and we are delighted now to share some of the highlights below having uploaded them to YouTube. A big thank you to the staff and members of the John Sullivan Resource Centre who kept a close eye on the birds. They christened the mum Annabelle, and the dad was named Apollo. We hope you enjoy the clips below.

A big thank you to everyone who supported the Nest Box Scheme in 2012 – the results were very encouraging. Here’s wishing the 37 young that were raised all the best in and around Clane in the coming weeks and months.

Saving Clane Swifts…

Swift (by Dick Coombes)

A recent study by volunteers of Kildare Branch of Birdwatch Ireland revealed that Clane is at risk of losing a species that has graced our skies since possibly the first buildings were built in Clane. A bird with an amazing story: the swift.

Swifts only spend a few months of the year in Clane, arriving in late April from sub-Saharan Africa, and departing by the end of August. Somewhat similar to swallows, house martins and sand martins, swifts are perhaps twice as large with stiff scythe like wings. They can sometimes be heard frantically chasing and screaming after each other in and around our buildings in the summer evenings.

Swifts are true masters of the air. They eat, drink, mate and even sleep on the wing – in fact swifts typically only stop flying to breed. So, once young swifts leap out of their nest for the first time, they may not stop flying for two or three years, until they are ready to look for a nest site themselves and start a family. Swifts typically nest in gaps under roof tiles of tall buildings, but modern building and roofing techniques are making it more and more difficult for them to find suitable nesting sites. Luckily solutions are not too complex and volunteer groups such as the Northern Ireland Swift Group are working to raise awareness and improve the lot for these birds.

The Abbey, Clane

Last year about 10 swifts were seen flying in and around Clane, but only two swift nests were actually located – both in very old buildings, and one in a building that may be redeveloped shortly. With the possibility of existing nest sites being lost, Clane Community Council and Clane Tidy Towns have made a special effort to preserve this species in Clane by providing dedicated accommodation for swifts in the tower of the Abbey.

A swift colony nest box that includes space for five nests has been specially constructed and installed behind the louvres of the window high up above the main door to the Abbey. The entrances are designed to line up with existing gaps in the louvres, and yet not let starlings in. The rear is designed to allow the nests be checked discreetly, and cleaned. Each nest includes a simple ‘concave’ to keep the eggs from rolling around and possibly even out of the nest box.

The new nest boxes with rear windows and walls removed

The next challenge in this project will be encouraging swifts that have been flying non-stop for two or three years to finally come to a rest and consider a nest site in this particular window. Although one of the current nest sites is nearby, success is not guaranteed. Another factor is food supply. Swifts only eat insects, so the health of our surrounding gardens, fields, rivers and countryside will also be important to ensure that there are enough insects for them to breed successfully. However, fingers are crossed. If the younger swifts simply discover the nest boxes this summer it could be an important step to securing the presence of this amazing bird in Clane for hopefully many years to come.

The nest boxes with their rear wall removed

Temporarily blocking the louvres beneath the nestboxes

The new nest boxes awaiting prospective tenants

Available To Let – 17 new Nest boxes!

Clane Tidy Towns and Kildare Branch of Birdwatch Ireland were delighted with the reponse to the Nest Box Scheme for Clane, 2012. A grand total of 17 boxes were donated to the cause and are now installed in and around the town awaiting prospective tenants. A special thanks to the folks of the Man’s Shed, organised by Clane Project Centre’s and based in Thompson Business Centre, for constructing 4 of the boxes.

The boxes will be monitored over the coming breeding season…keep an eye out here for future updates. If you spot any activity at any of the boxes, please send a note to us at wildaboutclane@gmail.com.

Calling all … nesting birds?

What a glorious spell of weather we are having. Thankfully it is that time of the year again and the birds are busy singing, and settling into nests.

This year it happens to be the last year of the enormous Bird Atlas project between the RSPB in the UK and Birdwatch Ireland here. It is a four year project attempting to record the distribution of every species of bird in these islands. Volunteers have been busy scouring the countryside, but there are still plenty of gaps in the data. This is the last chance to close the gaps: perhaps you can help.

For the 10km square that Clane is in, the following species have been recorded as probably breeding, but their breeding has not been confirmed. Almost everyone recognises the magpie…is it possible there are no magpie nests around Clane, Prosperous or Naas?

  • Teal
  • Tufted Duck
  • Pheasant
  • Grey Heron
  • Buzzard
  • Water Rail
  • Coot
  • Lapwing
  • Snipe
  • Curlew
  • Common Sandpiper
  • Cuckoo
  • Long-eared Owl
  • Skylark
  • Pied Wagtail (yarrellii)
  • Whinchat
  • Grasshopper Warbler
  • Sedge Warbler
  • Jay
  • Magpie
  • Greenfinch
  • Redpoll (Common/Lesser)
  • Bullfinch
  • Cormorant
  • Peregroine
  • Black-headed Gull
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull
  • Raven
  • Carrion/Hooded Crow Hybrid
  • Common Crossbill

If you have seen any of these species breeding around Clane – either an occupied nest, or young being fed by adults –  your sighting could be valuable.

Please send an email with details to wildaboutclane@gmail.com and we will follow up with you. Alternatively feel free to log your record yourself on http://www.bto.org/volunteer-surveys/birdatlas.

If you know about a nest but are not 100% sure about the species, no problem. Contact wildaboutclane@gmail.com and if possible we will call out and let you know what it is (without disturbing the nest).


After the swallow-like birds head off to Africa, did you know that other birds fly into Clane to ‘enjoy’ our winter weather?

Most of our winter visitors come from the Arctic, places where the winter weather is extremely harsh. Many of these visitors are thrushes – usually medium-sized brownish birds with spotted bellies – and several types of thrushes can be found in Clane…

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