There are over 100 Swift Awareness Week events planned between 22nd-30th June organised by small local swift conservation groups. Please support them by looking at what is happening near you – for details see map here.
Our Bristol garden was open as part of Swift Awareness Week on Sunday 23rd June. Over 250 people visited and saw our swift colony and learnt a bit more about swifts. We also raised almost £900 for National Garden Scheme charities.
The aim of Bristol Swifts is to provide proven practical advice about swift conservation. Swift numbers have been steadily declining for the last 25 years and unless we do something to reverse this trend we could lose them forever. One of the main reasons for this decline is the loss of suitable nest sites. By discovering exactly where they are nesting, we can do something to help. The best option is always to try and protect an existing nest site but sometimes that’s not always possible, so the next best thing is to put up nest boxes nearby. Our website is designed to show some of the things you can do. Your help is absolutely crucial in helping these remarkable birds
My name is Mark Glanville and I live in Bristol. I have been interested in wildlife in general and birds in particular all my life. My interest in swifts began in May 2005. I’ve been learning about them ever since and attended the International Swift Conference in April 2014. I am the Bristol & Avon contact for Swift Conservation and have advised many home-owners on suitable nest box sites, as well as being involved in larger projects both local and national.
My wife Jane shares my interest and has taken most of the photos and videos and created this website. We also have a website with photographs and videos of wildlife and wildlife-friendly plants taken in our Bristol Garden. We have opened our garden for the last 3 years as a way of helping promote swift conservation. We have also raised over £2000 for various charities and good causes. Some of that money has been donated to help provide specialist care for injured and orphaned swift chicks.
Swifts (apus apus) are the black, sickle-winged birds that characteristically fly at high speed around our buildings during the summer. They are often confused with swallows and house martins – see link to RSPB swift identification website for details.
It is estimated that their breeding numbers have dropped by over 50% in the last 25 years and they are an Amber listed species.
Although swifts are long distance migrants wintering each year in Africa, the reason their numbers are falling lies much closer to home. Swifts prefer to nest in colonies in old buildings, walls and bridges. Many colonies have existed for tens and in some cases hundreds of years. Conservationists widely agree that large urban regeneration schemes, as well as individual household refurbishments over the last 20 years in cities like Bristol, has been the main reason swift numbers have declined so dramatically. The refurbishment of many old buildings have unfortunately resulted in the loss of hundreds of traditional nesting sites. The simple fact is that new and modernised buildings offer little opportunity for swifts to nest.
There are a number of excellent websites including Swift Conservation and Action for Swifts with detailed information for the individual, as well as action plans specifically designed for councils and developers.
Little is known about the exact location of swift nests, so establishing their location is key in protecting them in the future. Steps such as deferring maintenance work whilst swifts are nesting and not filling in every nook and cranny in roofs can make a huge difference. Please contact us if you know where swifts are nesting in Bristol.