Not forgotten about the birds…

Thinking of the homes that GlastonBees have provided for Honey bees and their happy human keepers, there has been a call from a few local residents to help some other of our wildlife that has not yet been catered for with as much enthusiasm.
Enter a time for the birds that visit our gardens.  Recently GlastonBees was asked to make a bird table.  Again, wishing to make something that is not commonly found, I made an updated version of a bird house that I made for my parents.
A personal residence and a Nursing home are to be the two final destinations for the Bird table / home.
I call this the “Tudor House”…  It’s a two bedroom bird home, with an open plan downstairs living area suitable for little birds to reside in a beautiful setting.  

I’m fortunate to have seen a diverse selection of birds who visit my parents “Tudor House” such as: 
Sparrows; Doves; Wood Pigeons; Jackdaws; Robins; Blue Tits; Starlings; and others
I look forward to hearing from the new owners of these Tudor Houses, when I ask them about the visitors that they now have to their gardens.


Bugglington Manor…

It’s good to know that my appreciation of the environment and my building skills do not go unrecognised…
Llanyrafon Manor in Cwmbran
Staff at Llanyrafon Manor in Cwmbran http://www.llanyrafonmanor.org/ commissioned GlastonBees to build them a selection of bug habitats to enhance the biodiversity in their spectacular grounds. Reluctant to take time away from building beehives but also intrigued, I decided, that on balance, with the recent weather being so cold the bees wouldn’t mind waiting a little longer while I considered the challenge.

Habitats request list included items for:
Birds;
Ladybirds;
Spiders;
Frog and toads;
Solitary bees;
and an all encompassing bug haven.
Of course, I obliged…
The majority of the items are commonly available to purchase but I chose to build them to my own liking using certain designs and materials.
Solitary Bee logs
Western Red Cedar Bird nesting box

Ladybird Tower

Larch Frog / Toad shelter

Larch bird nesting box
With new residences built and drilled, all that remained was the pinnacle of this project… A vision of a “multi species bug haven.” The Manor staff brim with ideas and there is no doubt that their suggestion of a structure with the silhouette of Llanyrafon Manor on it provided an excellent starting point.  The staff also have creative imaginations, however they could not foresee that something inside of me wanted to make something different, something spectacular, so I convinced them we should up the challenge and build a scaled model of the whole building,
The initial drawing
First realisation of the buildings footprint

After spending several hours, looking at photos of the building and playing around on Google Sketch-up (a 3D rendering program), the design was conceived.

With a deadline looming, it was time to do a spot of shopping… 43 metres of timber, screws, clout nails, slate and lead free flashing was needed for this job, not forgetting learning how to cut slate and to further that, slate a roof.

Bugglington quickly became quite a priority, not only because of the timescale but because it consumed almost all of the floor space in the workshop, meaning that other machines were out of action and not much room for walking around in there.

After many hours in the workshop, which included: several headaches trying to figure out how to transform what I saw on the 3D rendering program into a physical item in front of me; one almighty mess of wood shavings and slate; teaching myself slating and copious amounts of hot chocolate made using the ghillie kettle, my vision began to take shape –
“BUGGLINGTON MANOR”
 
First slate going on… oh happy days… it worked first time

That’s the slating done for 2 out of the 8 sections

The unfilled carcass was installed within the grounds of Llanyrafon Manor, it was then time to place materials suitable for bug habitation inside the manor with huge expectation for the new residents to move in.

 
Wow, I love this view

A prospective new residents view

On Sunday 31st March 2013, Llanyrafon Manor staff held an event with an Easter theme mixed with a spot of biodiversity. Besides an egg hunt, there were talks and an unveiling of the much anticipated Bugglington Manor.

To help get Bugglington ready for its new residents to move in, it needed lots of materials to be placed inside to give shelter to our little friends. 

For this to happen we needed some help, and this came in the form of children who very kindly took time out from searching for eggs on the Easter egg hunt to help us place materials inside, whilst learning what types of creatures that are expected to take up residence here. We placed inside: straw; slate; bark; bamboo; pampas; twigs; bricks and cones.
Laid here typing right now, reflecting over the past few weeks gives me opportunity to take stock. This has been an amazing opportunity. The scale of the job teased and stretched me. Starting with interpreting my own design, learning unexplored skills, discovering new depths of personal resourcefulness and finding the resilience needed to complete all the stages. All this has culminated in supplying an article with impact and true purpose, and I have to admit, right now a great sense of pride and achievement is flowing through me.
I am certainly looking forward to the next time my imagination is allowed to flow when the next opportunity is offered. 
For now though, it is time to go back to the beehives…
Welcome to Bugglington Manor