21 February 2021 Our Tisbury Swifts Campaign is taking off
The talk by Edward Mayer of Swift Conservation was the starting point - more details on the Talks/What you missed page. So - what are we doing to protect existing nest sites and provide new ones for the young?
Andrew Graham is our recorder and mapper of sightings and nesting.
Elizabeth Forbes, ie Website Editor, will provide help assessing the suitability of nesting sites, liaising with swift experts.
First, we're recording all the existing nest sites - including those believed unoccupied - that we know of in the village. Because they're so unobtrusive they're very vulnerable to maintenance and repair, so identifying them must ensure they're not disturbed. Also, when we know where in the village is favoured it will help us decide where to put up new boxes as swifts generallyh like to nest with others nearby.
Next, we will identify sites for new boxes. It is important to accept that swifts may not use the boxes for a year or two, or even three. To maximise the chance of occupation, there are recordings of the mating calls that can be played in or near the box, and this is very strongly recommended.
Then, in the summer we will ask people to keep watch in the late evening to see if birds are returning to the nest, which is the only time they do so, to feed their young. This may help find nests not identified earlier in the year.
How you can help
A range of leaflets from Swift Conservation covers pretty well all the questions you may have, starting with Swifts for homeowners.
If you know of an existing nest site, let us know: please in the first instance email Laura at TNHSswiftproject@gmail.com
If you are interested in putting up one or more nest boxes or providing accessible spaces for them, you will find useful guidance in the leaflets Swift nest boxes at your home or Swift nest places in soffits and eaves. Please contact Laura (TNHSswiftproject@gmail.com) if you are interested in a group purchase and help with installation - COVID 19 permitting. For those participating, Elizabeth will help assess the suitability of sites, liaising with swift experts. For those wishing to install boxes independently, further advice on the suitability of sites is offered by Swift Conservation. Please remember you may not attract swifts for a few years and maybe never. But if you can install the recordings of calls made by a breeding swift that are available, the chances are greatly improved.
If you would like to help survey the village for active nest sites in the summer, also please let Laura know at TNHSswiftproject@gmail.com.
Thank you - it's going to be an exciting year!
Tisbury provides new homes for migrants
Swift numbers are in swift (!) decline in the UK partly due to lack of nesting sites - they traditionally nested in holes under the eaves of houses and now that houses have been upgraded and modernised they no longer have access to suitable nesting places.
Swifts arrive from Africa at the end of April or beginning of May and leave again in August. They feed, mate and sleep on the wing and only land to nest.
Tisbury Natural History Society has paid for two woodcrete nest boxes for swifts which have now been erected on the west side of the Brewery building under the eaves overlooking St John’s churchyard.
They were put there after permission was granted by David Smale who is the representative of the residents' association. We hope to find someone living in the Brewery near the boxes willing to have a DVD playing swift calls as this may encourage the birds returning in Spring to use our boxes.
If you are aware of swifts nesting anywhere in Tisbury, please let us know - see Contacts page.
Meanwhile, take a few minutes to enjoy this delightful video about swifts from Gloria Molina, a swift activist in Segovia in Spain. Just click on the link (there is a translation into English):