Inmates at HMP Dumfries have been helping RSPB Scotland

Inmates in HM Prison Dumfries have been helping to give nature a home this spring by making nest boxes for RSPB Scotland.

The boxes include five designed specially for owls and two that should attract breeding kestrels, as well as 20 smaller boxes, which might appeal to a range of species, from great tits to tree sparrows.

Two benches have also been donated, which, along with the nest boxes, will be installed at the Crook of Baldoon reserve at Bladnoch near Wigtown.

Paul Tarling is the RSPB Scotland warden at the Crook of Baldoon. He said: “I was approached by Robert Blackley of HMP Dumfries earlier this year to look into ways that inmates could contribute to the local community by helping us to support wildlife on our reserves. I think this is a hugely worthwhile exercise, and I’ve been involved in similar work during previous jobs over the last 40 years.
“Mr Blackley has an infectious enthusiasm and has been fantastic to work with throughout the process. The boxes that we received have been made to a high standard, and we’re hopeful that they will help to increase the number of breeding birds at the Crook of Baldoon.
“We’re now considering further projects with the inmates, including the creation of tern rafts for sites such as Ken-Dee Marshes, more benches, bat boxes, and insect homes for the Wood of Cree at Newton Stewart.”

Regimes Manager Robert Blackley, said: “HMP Dumfries are always keen to work with and to support local community initiatives and charities throughout Dumfries and Galloway.

Working in partnership with Dumfries and Galloway Community Pay Back scheme and local business, HMP Dumfries made use of recycled materials in building the nest boxes and benches which were supplied to the RSPB.
“This project supports worthwhile local initiative that both benefits the environment and the creation of wildlife habitats. For the prison, this project provides a purposeful and meaningful work activity for persons in our care. Individuals involved in this project show a keen interest and willingness in this type of work.”

The nest boxes are part of on-going work at RSPB Scotland Crook of Baldoon to create more habitat for wildlife. New lagoons have been attracting a wide range of water birds such as pintail ducks, herons and redshanks, while species such as lapwings are already starting to breed this spring.

The reserve is open at all times and is free to visit. Events run throughout the year. Have a look at the website for more details: www.rspb.org.uk/crookofbaldoon.