Anyone with experience of the Solar Sipper?

Afternoon all,

While putting water out each morning (and adding hot during the day) is manageable, we're currently having difficulties in getting water out for foxes and martens.

Even if we put hot out late in the evening, night-time temperatures mean that it's frozen by the time the martens arrive (normally between 2 and 4 am).

Does anyone have night-time, low-temperature experience with the 'Solar Sipper'? Or another option to propose?

Looking forward to all and any feedback -


  • Hi Dave merry chriblemas and happy new year, hope you and Mrs Dave are keeping well. I can't help with the solar sipper, but you could try leaving a note out explaining the predicament to the martens and foxes, and suggest they arrive a little earlier? Alternatively you could get up at 1.....
  • In reply to PimperneBloke:

    Morning PB, and the same back to you. We're well thanks; hope the same it true for the PBs.

    This morning, we have a video of a marten calling its mate down to the washing-up bowl Mrs. Dave put out at the back of the house last night. It was at around 2 am, so they must have just been able to break the ice.

    I'm guessing you're fluent in marten and fox. If you write the note, I'll put it out. Promise.

    Regarding getting up at 1 am, I'm of an age where if I did that, I'd never get back to sleep again.

    I care, but even my caring has its limits...

  • You could try putting a rubber ball in the bowl that will float & they may be able to dislodge it to drink the water. You could also dig a hole & set the bowl in the ground so its a bit lower......

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • In reply to Noisette:

    Thanks Noisette.

    We've a 150cm deep basin frozen over (that's where they normally drink outside of winter) and minus 9 coming later in the week. I suspect we need some kind of heat source.

    Will certainly try the ball though, and let you know how that works out.

    All the best -


  • Noisette I thought of the balls but maybe a small heater

    See this thread, would appear balls did not work.

    Just googled this


  • In reply to SunnyKate2:

    That looks interesting SunnyKate, and -10 is a good temperature. Thank you -
  • We had a problem with our deep pond totally frozen over so you couldn't break the ice, it was down to -10°C at night & lasted for a long period. However at the end of the garden the water in the ditch didn't freeze, geothermal heat I suppose. Whatever, putting out fresh water each day in a bowl isn't quite the same as a permanent pond that just gets colder & colder. If you put the bowl in a sheltered spot it may help too. There was also an old wives tale about hot water freezing quicker than cold, but you'll have to experiment with that & let us know.....Good luck.

    Best wishes

    Hazel in the Gironde estuary, France

  • In reply to Noisette:

    Thanks again Noisette.

    The plot's very varied, so I can try the foot of one of the walls in the parterre. The drain covers are also a warm spot; the column of air beneath them keeping them relatively snow and ice free. Perhaps I could mimic that effect, given that both foxes and martens will be able to negotiate a small climb.

    I'll work on it and post the results.

    Re that old wives' tale, I recently read The Last Word, a collection of readers' letters from the New Scientist, to which I subscribed for many years. There is solid science behind hot or recently boiled water freezing more quickly than cold water. I'd try to explain, but the effort would probably bring on a nose bleed...

    Will post again when I've managed to resolve the "problem".

    All the best -


  • So, here's how we *fixed it".

    Just in passing, it's a bit of a surprise to post on the RSPB Community about the Solar Sipper but to get nobody with experience of it. The RSPB recommends it explicitly in its information on water in winter. But then, there has always seemed to be some disconnect between the Society and its Community.

    As the basin we have is deep (ca 1.2 m) and is still frozen, we opted for getting the water off the ground rather than sinking it into the ground. And as everyone with a garden knows that proximity to pretty much anything can raise temperatures locally, we tried to create a small air pocket around the bowl.

    Unfortunately, rich text isn't working at present, so I can't upload the photo we took.

    We put a bowl down on terracotta feet to get it up off the ground, and set it in a big slug guard to create a kind of double shell. All that we set inside two hedgehog feeding stations---basically U-shaped wood constructions (we normally put a paving stone on top, then block the open entrance with cobbles and rocks) open at the front. Everything is set up under a bench, not in a particularly sheltered spot but it does have a good two foot or so of snow on top of it.

    The result: good down to minus 8, with just a thin skim of ice on the surface, which foxes and martens can easily cope with.

    Not been able to check if it's used or not, as the snow now is too hard for tracks, and the trailcam seems to struggle to operate under around minus 5.

    The local birds, meanwhile, get top ups five times a day. And the transgender cat we've adopted is comfortable in the front porch.

    So, all is well with the world.

    All the best -

  • Rich text functioning again. Here's the photo (after a thaw):