Wednesday 22 June 2011

Preservation of Swift nests after a Roof Renovation

We heard from Su Gough, BTO training Officer, of her success in preserving Swift nest sites in her roof after a renovation project. It shows what can be done with a little thought and a cooperative roofing contractor:

The circle indicates an occupied nest entrance
Just thought I’d let you know, as I feel this does have relevance to Swift conservation, especially as it means birds can be maintained with minimal effort/cost – but mainly because I am extremely chuffed that Swifts have returned, even after work was completed.

We own a very old end of a terrace in Thetford, Norfolk tiled with pantiles. The existing roof has had numerous Swift nests, under tiles, between tiles and the remains of the felt for years. Old felt had been mostly shredded by generations of Swifts BUT in their defence we believe the felt was from c. 1920s and in many places was turning to ''compost'' as it rotted, so we don't think the Swifts were the prime cause of the felt failing. The roof was failing and failed completely last winter, forcing me to get the felt replaced and tiles re-laid, despite my fear that I may lose the Swifts. The new 'felt' is much thicker and of a different make.

After many hours researching various options to allow the Swifts back after work completed, and discussing with roofers all options we realised that none of the commercially available boxes/tiles/bricks etc would work on my property so the roofers (with advice from AfS members) decided that the best course of action was to raise the corners of some tiles when relaying, to allow the Swifts to go straight back in to the same locations as they were previously. This was just enough to allow the birds in, whilst in no way compromising the weather-proofness of the roof.

I am extremely pleased that the Swifts have happily accepted this arrangement and, indeed, as the roofers left quite a few tiles raised, I think we actually have more nests than in previous years.

Tiles wedged up to allow swifts in
I have to say how understanding the roofers (SK Roofers, Lakenheath) were, even though it meant the finished roof wasn’t as neat and tidy looking as, perhaps, they would have wanted.

The work was completed in Jan (ouch!) in order to avoid disturbance to the Swifts and House Sparrows (we also insisted they left the net out of the eaves, Sparrows spent 3 days on the cherry tree in great distress, but were re-lining their nests within 2 hours of roofers leaving...)

Saturday 18 June 2011

A Box of Swifts

Contributed by Dick Newell and John Clamp

Speaker, power supply and Box of Swifts

We are currently testing a small number of prototype Swift call players, built out of standard, low cost electronic components, including amplifier chips. The result, called "A Box of Swifts" is a simple to use, no hassle device with a power supply in (anything between 6 and 12 volts) and a single wire out to drive a small, quality speaker.
When power is switched on, A Box of Swifts starts playing for an indefinite period of time, until the power is switched off, so controlling it with a low cost timer is easy.

Sunday 12 June 2011

Nicely Designed Swift Cabinet

These pictures were sent to us by Darren Frost. They demonstrate how nice a Swift Cabinet can look on a semi-detached house.

The boxes are made of 12mm marine ply and there are nest concaves in all compartments. There is a gap between the box and the wall for bats.

Darren has already got Swifts interested in these boxes, so, if he keeps going with his CD, he has every chance of new occupants this year.

It is important that Swift boxes do not spoil the appearance of a nice house, and painting the boxes to match goes a long way to achieve this.

Tuesday 7 June 2011

Cambridge Swift Tower "Bird Scarer"

Contributed by Guy Belcher

As there is no mains power anywhere near the Swift Tower, we have decided to use a Bird Scarer, programmed with Swift attraction calls, powered by a 12 volt battery, recharged by a solar panel.

The system was configured by Martley Electronics of Worcester and comprises:

BS3 Bird scarer (programmed with Swift attraction calls)
Run off a 75ah 12V leisure battery with a 5 watt trickle feed solar panel.
There is a dawn/dusk light sensor and a 12V timer for maximum flexibility.
Unless the timer is set it plays 5 minutes durations of calls at random during daylight hours.
There is a volume control. 

The complete unit is weather proof.

Approx cost inc. delivery is   £450.00

Saturday 4 June 2011

The Cambridge Tower is up!

Photos by Bob Tonks:

Well, here it is in all its glory:

You can read all about it in the Cambridge News

and see this video about the tower by Cambridge Film Consortium and the the children.

And the back is just as interesting as the front:

Thursday 2 June 2011