Bird club’s bid to save falling number of swifts

Kathy Piotrowski of Waveney Bird Club. Photo James Carr.

Kathy Piotrowski of Waveney Bird Club. Photo James Carr. - Credit: Archant

For many the screaming sounds of hunting swifts are synonymous with warm summer evenings.

A Swift nest box. Photo: James Carr.

A Swift nest box. Photo: James Carr. - Credit: Archant

However, for years this iconic symbol of summer has been growing fainter with declining numbers of the migrating birds visiting each year.

Waveney Bird Club (WBC) is determined to stop this worrying trend.

Project officer Paddy Shaw said: “Swifts are so evocative of summer evenings and their calls part of the fabric of life; for us to lose them through inaction would be unthinkable.”

Swifts travel to England from south of equator and favour nesting in older buildings; under pantile roofs and in small holes.

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Yet due to widespread redevelopment and modern architectural styles not making provision for nesting sites they have been left with fewer places to make a home.

The WBC is now hosting a series of activities across Beccles and Bungay encouraging public awareness of the birds’ plight.

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First is a competition to win specialised swift nest boxes to help the birds set up home and breed.

Twelve ‘Swift Fact’ posters will be located in shops around the towns, from June 25 to July 8 in Beccles, and June 11 to June 23 in Bungay.

Mr Shaw said: “The posters ask multiple choice questions about the extraordinary lifestyle of the swift; we hope as many people participate and start to appreciate how unique they are.”

Entry forms are available online or at each town’s library.

This year also sees the return of the ‘Swift Walk, Swift Pint’ project on Monday, July 2.

Teams will set off at 6.30pm from either Beccles bell tower or Butter Cross in Bungay, and walk colour coded routes with regular pub stops along the way, counting the number of swifts they see.

The results will be collected for the British Trust for Ornithology’s Birdtrack database.

Mr Shaw said: “We hope local people will help and secure their future in the Waveney Valley.”

Events organiser Kathy Piotrowski added: “If you live in a village or a town where you hear the birds screaming then feel special because the swifts have chosen your town or village to try and breed in.”

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