Swifts have declined dramatically in recent years (by about a third since 1995). They are an iconic bird of our towns and villages and a welcome harbinger of summer. At least part of the reason for this decline is the loss of nesting locations in the nooks and crannies of our buildings, due to tighter building construction, renovation of old buildings and more energy efficient design.
Shropshire is blessed with a relatively plentiful Swift population compared to many other counties and we want to keep it that way or improve on the record.
To this end, the SACWG is conducting an annual survey of Swift numbers and breeding locations in our area. This involves looking for various types of evidence, such as birds going to nests in the evening from May onwards, young being fed slightly later in the year, display activities such as “screaming parties” and counts of numbers of Swifts in favoured locations.
The data collected will be shared with the Shropshire Council Ecological database, the Shropshire Ornithological Society and other appropriate organisations, and will be used by SACWG and others to monitor planning applications and building activity. The survey will provide a baseline for future surveys to monitor trends.
Project Activities 2017
Survey walks took place, just before sunset, which is an excellent time to locate Swifts going to their nests. We started in early June and ended our walks in early August, although casual observations continue beyond that date.
More Swift nest sites were found than during last year’s survey, some in exactly the same places as last year and others in other locations on the same buildings. In addition, we have located some nests in different areas of the Strettons on buildings newer than those used last year.
Swifts in the Strettons will be running again in 2018. In the meantime, if there is anything that you wish to ask about this project or are interested in taking part, please contact the project leader Julie Cowley at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The findings of the current and previous surveys have been made available in reports. Specific addresses of buildings on which confirmed nesting was found are excluded from this report but are available on a “need to know” basis on request.
Our results also contributed to the records of the Shropshire Swift Group whose January 2016 newsletter can be read here.