Swift Conservation in Hampshire
Swifts are declining in the UK: the BTO Breeding Bird Survey recorded a 38% reduction in range in the 15 years to 2010 and our own Hampshire Bird Atlas notes a 64% reduction in range in approximately 20 years to 2010. There is evidence this decline is at least partially linked to a reduction in the number of available nest sites and this in turn is caused by the modernisation of housing stock, eliminating the structural features of older houses preferred by nesting swifts. A stark statistic on the Swift Conservation website (see link below) states that swifts nest almost exclusively on pre-1944 houses, with no nesting on properties built after 2000.
The good news is that creating sites suitable for swifts is not difficult; a number of different nest boxes are available as well as internal boxes which can be incorporated into the structure of a property. In the case of older houses, or other buildings such as churches, undergoing renovation or the building of new houses or other buildings, boxes can easily be included in the planned works. In areas where swifts are already present the creation of additional nesting sites in this way can be very successful. In areas where swifts are less evident they can be attracted by playing swift calls in the proximity of the boxes. Completely new colonies have been established in this way and in some areas “swift towers”, elevated structures containing numerous swift nesting holes, have been installed.
In many parts of the country (as well as in Europe) regional “swift groups” have been established with the objectives of:
- surveying and counting swift nest sites
- suppling nest-boxes and working with householders and businesses to maintain and increase the number of nesting sites
- providing advice to householders, builders and businesses on swift conservation
In Hampshire we already have a number of individuals who have installed swift nest boxes and who have built up considerable experience on conserving swifts in their areas. The county as a whole, however, doesn’t have a swift group as such and it is time that was remedied.
At the HOS AGM on Saturday 2nd April the founder of “Swift Conservation”, Edward Mayer, presented on “Swifts and their conservation” and we hope to capitalise on this talk to build up a body of volunteers across the county who can help develop an active Hampshire Swift group. If you are interested in assisting in the conservation of swifts, whether by counting or building nest boxes or in any other capacity, please contact Keith Betton or myself at the meeting or by email if you are unable to attend.
The Facebook group can be accessed at : https://www.facebook.com/groups/HampshireSwifts/
For those who do not wish to have a Facebook account then please email
and we’ll set up a group email so we can keep you updated
For further information, please see the Swift Conservation website.
Portsmouth Swift Day 24th June 2017
On the 24th June 2017, Hampshire Swifts (in conjunction with Hampshire Ornithological Society), Portsmouth local RSPB Group and HIWWT will host the Portsmouth Swift day. The inspirational and renowned Swift expert, Edward Mayer from Swift Conservation, will be speaking about what we can all do to help conserve these fabulous birds. There will also be local experts on hand to provide advice, exhibits, children's activities and walks. There is a café on site for refreshments.
The event takes place at Milton Village Hall, 182 Milton Road, Southsea, Hants, PO4 8PR with the doors opening around 1330.
Edward is scheduled to speak around 1400 and this will be followed by a coffee break, information on local initiatives to promote Swift conservation and a draw. The event closes at 1800.
Parking around the venue is available on nearby roads but is limited and so use of public transport is advisable. There is plentiful parking at B&Q Portsmouth (PO4 8SL) which is approximately 12 minutes’ walk away. Download more details here.