The Crook of Baldoon was very pleased last month to receive lots of homes for nature from HM Prison Dumfries made by inmates of the prison as part of their Community Pay Back Scheme.

We were approached by Regimes Manager Robert Blackley at the beginning of the year to look into ways that inmates could contribute to the local community and by some constructive method help RSPB support wildlife on our reserves. Personally, I think this is a hugely worthwhile exercise, as having been involved in similar work over the last 40 years.

The RSPB are always looking for ways to work with local communities to help nature and this intern helps the wellbeing of the general public because as we know nature and the great outdoors sooths and relieves stress. So this type of community pay back scheme fits the bill perfectly for both the public that enjoy the countryside and talking to the Regimes Manager Robert Blackley this type of activity suits the inmates perfectly as well.

I supplied several different drawings of nest boxes for the inmates to consider making depending on their personal skills, they included owl boxes of which they made 5 with variance for different species of owl. Two that should attract kestrels, and 20 that will appeal to different smaller birds, such as great and blue tits, tree sparrows and even wrens. As well as these fabulous boxes, they made two garden centre quality garden benches.

In the future that we might be able to put forward ideas for new projects that will make some interesting challenges for this more than competent group of people.

This may include the creation of tern rafts for sites such as Ken-Dee Marshes, more benches, bat boxes, and insect homes for our Wood of Cree reserve at Newton Stewart.