Thursday 28 January 2016

Swifts and traditional nest sites in Anglican churches

This is an appeal for records of Swifts nesting in churches in Oxfordshire, Berkshire and Buckinghamshire

by Chris Mason

St Nicholas, Islip, one of the many Oxfordshire churches
which formerly had nesting Swifts
50 years ago most of our local parish churches had nesting Swifts.

Now in my part of the country (North Oxfordshire) I reckon it’s roughly one church in seven, and even those will eventually disappear as essential repairs and maintenance work are carried out; or rather they would have disappeared. But this is now much less likely as a result of an agreement reached with representatives of the Oxford Diocese (Berks, Bucks and Oxon).

Holy Trinity, Shenington,
where Swifts still nest under the eaves
The agreement is that if planned repairs will affect traditional nest sites, the sites will be left intact if possible, and if that can’t be done efforts will be made to create alternatives.
Also in appropriate cases the Diocese will look
favourably at proposals to include Swifts bricks when major renovations are being undertaken, and at the idea of nest boxes behind louvred windows.

Major renovations are already planned for the church in Cropredy (below left) where Swifts still nest in a wall of the tower and we expect the church will benefit from the new agreement. Swifts have also nested for many years at the church in Kidlington (below right). We hope the same will apply when the roof there is eventually repaired.

St Mary the Virgin, Copredy (left) and St Mary's, Kidlington (right)
However all this is dependent on one thing – knowing which churches in these counties are being used by Swifts.  At present I only have information about parts of Oxfordshire.

So this is a plea to anyone visiting or watching in any of these counties to note and report any Swift activity around Anglican churches; also if anyone already knows of a church in these counties which has recently had nesting Swifts please would they report as below:

Any reports for Berkshire please inform Jan Stannard
Any reports for Oxfordshire please inform me: Chris Mason
Any reports for Bucks please inform me for the time being. At present there is no one in the Swifts Local Network based in Bucks. I am working on that.

Parties of Swifts wheeling and screaming around village church towers and steeples are one of the glorious sights and sounds of an English summer. I hope we can keep it that way.


  1. Great work!! I hope that those actions will preserve the Swift populations in your country!

  2. Hi Dick, just had a report in from someone in west Berkshire saying that swifts are nesting in Fawley Church, OX12 9NJ. Chris is aware. Good news. I've asked if there is any other support for swift nesting going on around there.