Well, there's a lot to report!
We were absolutely thrilled that we ended up with 17 homes for humans now also equipped with a total of 32 new homes for swifts - extending from Teffont Evias (we could hardly refuse to include Laura Downer, our Project Manager) to the outback of Semley (we couldn't resist such a lovely property, with farm buildings nearby for possible expansion of the we-hope colony). We were greatly helped in the planning by Andrew Graham's mapping skills.
Thank you all!
We emphasised to everyone that this is a long-term project - it took a similar one ten years to get from a single breeding pair to 35, so we have to grit our teeth, especially in this most swift-unfriendly spring when all our migrators are having a hard time.
We also installed six calling systems, on properties deemed too far from a known nest site to attract residents from there.
We cannot thank Hampshire Swifts enough for their whole-hearted, unstinting support - and Ed Mayer of Swift-Conservation for his January talk, which inspired this response.
For more about this, go to Tisbury Focus magazine May issue for a wonderful feature with a lovely front cover photo showing the installation team in action.
What we now have to do is undertake a survey of the village to identify currently active nest sites and the overall size of our local population. We'll do this in early July, when there's Swift Awareness Week from 3-11.
Meanwhile ... swifts are in the air or sometimes, not: here's what to do if you find one on the ground
In the last five years, it's been a privilege to hold four swifts in my hand - two live young which I took to the Wildlife Hospital, one moribund so sadly didn't make it and one dead that I found on Cuffs Lane. So it's quite possible you may find one yourself.
I don't know if the moribund one would have survived if I'd known to try re-hydrating it, as described here on the Swift Conservation website and in this excellent leaflet about rescuing swifts. It's drafted for vets but pretty good for ordinary people.
The basic is:
Swifts can't take off from the ground because their wings are too long and their legs too short to give them the necessary thrust. So if you find one on the ground, to see if it's strong enough to fly, hold it out at head height on open palms, give it time to think and if it can, it will. DO NOT throw it into the air.
If it can't, follow the advice in the leaflet and take it to our local Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital at Newton Tony - SP4 0HW. They take in anything up to 20 swifts a year, some as tiny as this one, and nurture them till they're big and strong enough to join the migration back to Africa.
Call 07850 778752 first for advice, but they're open 24 hours for patients.
Photo: Barn owl
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