Sunday, 20 May 2018

Lymington Business Centre. creating a Safe Environment for Swifts

Thank you to Nick Windibank and Andy Broadhurst of Hampshire Swifts for sending us this story.

Lymington Business Centre
Lymington Business Centre occupies a building which was renovated in 1986 from its original use as a squash club. It consists of three storeys, the top level being of a wooden frame construction which has eaves on two sides with protruding rafters and is clad in slate.

The building is known to us due to its association with what are known locally as the “library Swifts” which form large groups over and above the nearby library but which we now know nest in some of the gaps above the slate cladding on the Business Centre. 

Slates showing where a Swift was trapped
In the winter of 2017 it was noted that there was what seemed to be nest material adhering to some of the slates and this was investigated as there was concern Swifts could get entangled.

It quickly became apparent that this material was in fact the corpses of two Swifts and a Starling, which had the misfortune to get trapped in the vertical gaps between some of the slates. We subsequently found out that a nearby resident had called the fire brigade on one occasion to free a bird caught in this way.

Having the opportunity to examine the spaces between the rafters we determined that additional nest sites could easily be created by attaching mounting bars to each rafter and then screwing a horizontal sheet to create the base of a nest site.


An example of 2 exposed rafters
showing the potential to create a nest site
Each sheet would have a nest hole and then be painted to match the rafters so rendering the whole assembly virtually invisible to passers-by. The original plan was to survey the two eaves in the summer of 2018 to determine which gaps already had Swifts nesting in them and then, during the close season, create new nest sites in the spaces not already used by Swifts or other species.

Examples of nest sites created between rafters
Concerned about the possibility that more Swifts would get trapped in 2018 we brought forward the plan, relying on the man on the ladder to determine whether or not there were gaps in the structure which could be used by Swifts. If not, then they were converted to new design Swift nesting sites. If so, they were left.

In this way 18 gaps on the rear aspect and 10 on the side aspect were converted to new nest sites, complementing those already present. At the same time all the gaps between the slates were sealed making it impossible for birds to get trapped in future.

To avoid disturbance to the tenants of the Business Centre, work could only proceed at weekends and in the evening and so progress was slow, especially on the side aspect when scaffolding was required to gain access to theeaves. The final nest site was created on the 7th May and birds were already entering some of the retained original nest sites.

This summer we will check out the occupancy of the remaining potential sites to determine what the baseline occupancy is, in the hope that in future years this building will develop into a major colony.

Thanks are due to Don Mackenzie, the owner of the Business Centre who enthusiastically supported this work and made a significant contribution towards our costs, Tim Norriss who designed the nest sites and Roger Maynard, roofer extraordinaire who actually did the work come rain or shine. Thanks are also due to Waitrose Lymington branch which, through their Community Matters scheme, raised a total of £ 451 for this project.




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