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Artificial Hobby Nests Installed at Sculthorpe

With the recent arrival of four Hobbies at Sculthorpe Moor, the reserve were keen to encourage them to stay on site. Working closely with the Norfolk Ornithological Association a number of Hobby baskets were already being stored at the reserve, and with the addition of some extra nest lining (moss) they were ready to install!


Image: Laura Wharton. A moss-lined Hobby basket could prove itself tempting to Sculthorpe's latest visitors

These baskets were originally created around 8 years ago at an event hosted at Norwich Castle. Based on a design for artificial nests that were pioneered by David and Don Garner in the late 1980s. Hobbies are amongst a number of birds that will repurpose old and abandoned nests, usually unattended due big gaps in the old nests that pose the risk of small eggs falling out through the holes.


Image: Andy Thompson. One of the four Hobbies recently spotted over the reserve’s wetlands

In some areas, preloved nests are a rare commodity so the introduction of artificial nests that recreate the premade twiggy structure are used to encourage breeding. In the case of Sculthorpe, the environment is ideal for the visiting Hobbies with plenty of land and open skies to hunt and thrive in. The only thing lacking was perfectly positioned nests!


Image: Lilly Dollman. Secured with cable ties the artificial nest is attached to a tall and exposed tree

The Hobby baskets have been installed in a part of the reserve called the Moor Plantation which is close to our wetland area. Four Hobbies have been sighted in this area recently so it was decided that this was the ideal location to place the artificial nests.


Image: Lilly Dollman. Expert tree climber Callum is experienced in installing high-up habitats

Pictured below is a diagram illustrating the ideal situation for artificial nests for different species of birds. Hobbies are ideally suited near the top of an isolated tree or one that is close to the edge of woodland or forest overlooking open farmland or heathland.


Image: Taken from “Boxes, Baskets and Platforms: Artificial Nest Sites for Owls and Other Birds of Prey”

The information and guidance on the artificial baskets and how to install them was taken from the Hawk and Owl Trust’s “Boxes, Baskets and Platforms: Artificial Nest Sites for Owls and Other Birds of Prey” book. A few second-hand copies are available on Amazon, and when purchased through Amazon Smile a donation will be made to the Hawk and Owl Trust: https://tinyurl.com/3nz4a9a9 

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