Bentley Wood wildlife buffer zone house martin project

2022/23 (Phase 1) Summary by Sue and Tony Farley

Some of you will already know that the Bentley Wood Wildlife Buffer Zone group was set up in 2022 and now consists of almost 200 people, living in villages surrounding Bentley Wood SSSI in south-east Wiltshire, who want to create a nature-friendly buffer zone around the wood. The villages include Farley, East and West Grimstead, West Dean, West Tytherley and Winterslow. The aims are to share actions and ideas that improve gardens and villages for nature, create ponds, wildflower areas and native hedges and provide homes for wildlife. The ultimate aim is to link the properties in villages and the villages themselves with wildlife-accessible corridors.

Tony and I began a house martin Project in 2022. 35 households in 10 local villages added 61 new artificial nest cup (ANC) units, made by Paul Stevens, for house martins (HMs). Because there were a number of double ANC units our community provided a total of 102 new nesting opportunities for house martins!

Final results on 09/10/ 2023: we emailed the 35 households.

  • 10 households reported that HMs used new ANCs for nesting (29% of the 35)
  • 25 households reported that NO HMs used ANCs for nesting… YET!
  • JM Farley 2 double ANCs 2 pairs 2 broods, 1 pair 1 brood
  • SW Farley 1 single apex ANC 1 pair 1 brood (arrived late)
  • JH Farley 1 double, 1 single apex ANC 1 pair 1 brood
  • CR W’slow 2 double ANCs 1 pair 2 broods
  • AJ W’slow 2 double ANCs/false eaves 3 pairs 2 broods, 1 pair 1 brood
  • JB W’slow 2 double ANCs/false eaves 1 pair 1 brood
  • PI W Dean 1 double ANC 2 pairs 1 or 2 broods?
  • DA W T’ley 1 double ANC 1 pair 2 broods, 1 pair 1 brood
  • *DM L’ley Green 4 single ANCs 1 pair 2 broods
  • BN L/ley Green 1 double ANC 1 pair 1 brood (arrived late)

So, ANCs gave 17 extra pairs of HMs homes this year and they raised at least 25 broods of chicks! Broods can be 2-4 chicks so that’s 50-100 extra HM chicks! Some of these will make it back next year… and need homes themselves.
These results surpassed our expectations for the first season!

In addition:

  • *DM (L’ley Green) reported 3 natural nests – 2 pairs 2 broods, 1 pair 1 brood
  • KH (East T’ley) reported 3 natural nests – 3 pairs ?broods
  • (KH had 2 double ANCs/false eaves but these weren’t used this year)

Were the successful ANCs all within existing HM colonies?

*Near a HM colony = within 400m

Our data seem to suggest that ANCs are more successful if placed within or near to an existing HM colony. In areas where HM colonies have disappeared it may now be unsuitable but perhaps in time they can be tempted back?

We have just held a FREE house martin event in Winterslow Village Hall and are embarking on Phase 2 of the Project over this winter! Watch out for news of Phase 1 and Phase 2 next year.

Written by Sue and Tony, Farley, Salisbury, Wilts
HM Project Summary, 5 November 2023

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