The very first nest box I put up, as a schoolboy, in a Norfolk wood 20 years ago, was used by a pair of marsh tits which successfully reared seven young. The serial numbers of the rings I put on them before they flew, HJ 56955 61 „ form a permanent record of that happy event in my ringing log, and somewhere in the archives of the British Trust for Ornithology at Tring Lies the nest record card, charting the progress of that particular nest.
The whole proccss would have met with the thorough approval of Lennart Bolund whose book this is. My own early efforts at making nest boxes were hardly Chippendale quality, but they were successful in as much as they passed the critical examination of that pair of marsh tits, which decided to use the box for the most important event in their short lives, the reproduction of their species.
Only a tiny proportion of the small birds ringed as nestlings arc ever found again, but those that arc provide valuable information on longevity, movement, causc of death and so on. None of those young marsh tits were ever recovered, but the nest record card data, combined with those recorded by many other birdwatchers, have already been used in at least one subsequent analysis and paper, thus making a small contribution towards our knowledge of these birds.
Lennart Bolund, like most of us, is a keen amateur birdwatcher". This book, which has already been published in Sweden and Denmark, is written not for scientists, but for all bird lovers and conservationists who warn to get out and do something practical to contribute towards the continued existence of these beautiful animals.
Our two translators have dealt very competently with the tongue twisting complexities presented by the Scandinavian languages; John Kennedy with the main part of the text, which is taken from the Swedish edition, while Penelope Holten-Andcrsen kindly unravelled the text on the white stork, dipper, little owl and hoopoe from the Danish edition.
At an early stage George Sainsbury and I dccided that it would be much more interesting and exciting to keep the Swedish flavour in this
English edition. Goldencye do now nest in Scotland, and large organisations like the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds and the Forestry Commission have been co-operating in a joint venture to encourage these and other exciting northern species to nest in our state forests; so their inclusion in this book has a practical relevance. In contrast, the chances of three-toed woodpeckers or pygmy owls nesting in Britain are remote; but in spite of this it is fascinating to read a first hand account of these gems of the sub-arctic forests, and what better way to whet the appetite for a birdwatching holiday in Lapland?
Lcnnart Bolund's guide explains how to provide for almost all the nest box using species and gives practical advice on how to help several more besides. For one of the most rewarding and satisfying experiences you can have with nature take his advice. Get out the hammer, saw and nails and have a go. Your own imagination and enthusiasm are the only limiting factors and the results are almost guaranteed.
Hugh Insley Balerno. Midlothian August 1987
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