Thursday, 26 January 2017

9 nest sites becomes 50 in Ludlow

This is a great story about what can happen when you put an active local group together with cooperative architects and developers resulting in a most satisfactory outcome

by
Robin Pote
For and on behalf of Ludlow Swift Group


Victory House in Ludlow, until recently home to the British Legion, is a large, rather neglected 4 storey building which has always had good numbers of swifts nesting in the roof away from the road. Up to 9 nests have been occupied in recent years. The sale of the building into private hands and rumours of extensive building work was of great concern to Ludlow Swift Group (LSG). Once plans became clear, a meeting was arranged with the ecological assessor and he was shown all the nest sites and left clear in his mind of the importance of the building for Swifts.

The subsequent report was extremely swift-friendly and was adopted with enthusiasm by the architects. As soon as work began to remove and re-lay all the roof tiles Ludlow Swift Group members were able to visit the site and offer advice. We were planning on suggesting box types, possibly swift bricks as replacements for the natural wall plate sites. However we were amazed to see the current sites, full of debris and old nesting material. So much old nesting material in fact that there was barely space for birds to nest and might explain why young birds have fallen out in the past.

Newly created nest sites
The wall plate was a substantial oak beam and quite deep, with free access from outside. The roofers offered to clean out all the wall plate spaces between the trusses and line each on three sides with ply to create secure spaces with no access into the roof behind and which would also prevent roof debris slipping in to nests as had happened before. Not all the ‘boxes’ are of equal size, and some may be too small. However, by the time they had finished the job the roofers had created upwards of 50 spaces suitable for swifts!! We await May 2017 with great excitement. This is potentially a ‘natural’ swift tower for Ludlow!

Tuesday, 24 January 2017

Another nice result of the Cambridge System

Two things are new about this project: firstly it is an example using CJ WoodStone boxes inside, secondly it is one of the first projects implemented by someone other than AfS.

[Update summer 2017: From 17th June Swifts have found the boxes and stayed for extended periods. Good prospects for 2018]

Jan Stannard's Victorian gable in Maidenhead is just one brick thick, so although there was no access inside the gable, it was practical to tackle this project wholly from the outside.

The project used 2 WoodStone build-in boxes and 2 homemade entrance pieces:

2 WoodStone build-in boxes and 2 homemade entrance pieces
Boxes and entrances in place

It was necessary to remove 2 courses of brickwork to install the boxes. This is rather more intrusive than one normally likes, but an excellent result has been achieved

The half bricks have been placed nicely to avoid aligned vertical bonds.

The homemade entrance pieces were cast using white cement and were then stained using Ecos Paints. One has to agree, the colour match is very good.

The nest boxes are the WoodStone® Build-in Hidden Swift Box




#cambridge

Monday, 16 January 2017

CJ commercialises the Cambridge Swift box system

The first batch of Cambridge System Swift boxes has been produced by CJ Wildlife with installations by the Duchy of Cornwall at Nansledan

Nansledan is a 218-hectare urban extension of Newquay to the east of the town. It has been earmarked by local authorities for more than 20 years as a way to meet the future business, housing, educational and health needs for Newquay in a sustainable way.

The Cambridge System has evolved out of a number of bespoke projects carried out by Action for Swifts in the Cambridge area, which you can read about here. Although all of these projects have been retrofitted into existing buildings, it is of course easier to install in new build. 

The Cambridge System is designed with the following objectives:
  • To be visually unobtrusive, embedded within the wall of the building
  • To provide secure, temperature-stable accommodation for Swifts
  • To be low cost, and easy to install
It comprises 2 components:
  • A brick insert containing the entrance in the outer wall
  • An internal nest box spanning the cavity and the inner wall
Although the Cambridge system is ideally suited for installation in gable ends at roof space level, in some situations it can also be installed at the level of the eaves.

In the CJ product, the entrance piece is cast in concrete and the nest box inside is made of WoodStone® to occupy the space of a building block.  The floor of the box contains concave nesting places for Swifts.

CJ Wildlife will have the Cambridge Swift System on their stand at the Ecobuild exhibition in ExCeL, London on 7-9 March.  More information is available from Paul Sears: paul.sears@birdfood.co.uk

The following pictures show how it is installed.

Neat external appearance
WoodStone® box occupying space of one block
WoodStone® nest box inserted behind entrance piece