Our Swifts have gone for another year and I’m left to make plans for next summer and to reminisce about the positive things of the last few months. This year it has been not only the Swifts themselves that have inspired me. It had also been the time and trouble people take to look after their Swifts, and the lengths to which they will go to encourage them. Here are a few examples of what I’m talking about.
|Two chicks ready to fledge|
First of all there’s Richard who lives in Combe. A pair of Swifts took up residence at his home in 2000. They took over a small hole in the gable of his stone cottage which Starlings had just vacated and nested successfully. Encouraged by this, Richard began creating more cavities for Swifts in the gable end of his stone cottage. The numbers increased steadily, and by 2011 he had 10 nesting pairs, and one pair prospecting. He has made the nest spaces so that he can view the nests from his attic and this year an amazing 25 young Swifts have fledged from his home. The last two (pictured opposite in the nest space, just before fledging - perspex backing removed) left on August 20th.
|Pete's nest box and the Schwegler panels on either side|
Then there’s James who lives in Adderbury. He bought an old farm house a few years ago. It needed major repair and modernisation, but he had noticed that birds were nesting in a wall of the building. He didn’t know about Swifts but did his own research and concluded that the birds were Swifts. He also found out about declining Swift numbers and how dependent they are on traditional nest places. So on his own initiative, he completed the renovation work and then re-created a nest hole in exactly the same place that the Swifts had been using before. He was rewarded when the following year the Swifts returned, and have continued to nest at the farm.
Left: the gable of James's farmhouse where a pair of Swifts nest. Right: close up of the nest hole.