Vandals destroy bird nesting boxes on Dunstable Downs - but the community comes to the rescue

A community has rallied round after sick vandals destroyed bird nesting boxes on Dunstable Downs.

The countryside team at Dunstable Downs have been overwhelmed by offers of help to replace and repair the boxes that were vandalised.

A dog walker discovered the damaged boxes while walking her dog through the Chute Wood area of the Downs which is owned by The National Trust on March 26. Since posting pictures of the damaged boxes on social media there has been an outpouring of support from the public to help restore these homes for breeding birds.

This is a very important time for nesting birds and these boxes provided a safe habitat for birds to nest and hatch their young.

Jon Powell, Countryside Manager said: “It was very sad to find out about the damage to the bird boxes. The boxes provide a safe habitat for many small nesting birds such as blue tits, coal tits, tree sparrows and nuthatch. Naturally these birds will nest in safe places like holes in trees. Often in woodlands such as Chute Wood, which has few old trees, there aren’t many holes for them to find. The nesting season for birds starts in April and runs through to June so this is crucial time when birds will be searching for a safe place to nest’

Since going viral, offers of help and donations have flooded in from the local community. Local charity Dunstable Men in Sheds donated four boxes.

Martin Young, Chairman & Trustee of Dunstable Men in Sheds said “Dunstable Downs are on our doorstep. Our Shed is based on the allotments that lie at the foot of the Downs so they play a major part in all our lives.

“It was a great shock to us all when we heard the news of the vandalism to the bird nesting boxes in Chute Wood especially at the start of the nesting season. We agreed that we would donate our stock of bird nesting boxes to the National Trust team. Last week we delivered four boxes and I, along with our secretary Terry Colver, helped the rangers put the boxes in the trees. Job well done! Now it’s the birds turn!”

1st/3rd Houghton Regis cubs have also been getting involved in the repair effort. Will Shaw, Group Scout Leader said: “This term the Cubs have been working towards their gardeners and naturalist badge and learning about the importance of wildlife and the world around us. Part of the badge work includes getting involved in the local community in a nature project. It was devastating to see what had happened to the boxes so they were all keen to help to put things right.“

Jon said: “We really have been overwhelmed by the response from the public. People have been offering to help repair the damaged boxes, build new boxes and have even donated money to buy new boxes. I’m pleased to say that we have already managed to replace all of the damaged boxes and, thanks to the kind donations from the public, have been able to add some new boxes so more birds will be able to safely nest at Chute Wood.

‘It’s heartening to know that Dunstable Downs and the surrounding countryside means so much to the local community. A large team of staff and volunteers work hard to look after the landscape to create a safe habitat for a wide variety of wildlife. Without the fantastic support of the public we would not be able to carry out our important conservation work.’

Anyone who would like to more about the conservation work at Dunstable Downs or would like to get involved should speak to a member of the team at the Chilterns Gateway Centre or visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/dunstable-downs-and-whipsnade-estate