Sunday 29 January 2012

Keeping Starlings out of the Schwegler 1 MF

Update 23rd May - see how this modification was implemented here

Contributed by Dick

Schwegler 1MF
In the first phase of the Fulbourn project, a number of the Schwegler 1MF boxes were occupied by Swifts, but also several were occupied by Starlings. This is because the entrance is too large.

On the inside of the louvres of this box, where the entrance is, there is a recess about 10mm deep . We have recommended to South Cambridgeshire District Council that they fill this recess with Polyfilla in order to reduce the entrance to 30mm.

If Starlings are occupying your Swift boxes, then reduce the entrance sizes and put up Starling boxes some distance away from the Swift boxes.

You can read more about entrance sizes in this post

Monday 23 January 2012

Why are our African migrants declining?

Contributed by Dick

A recent paper in Bird Study (see reference at the end) has looked at correlations between population trends of migrants in Britain and a number of 'bioclimatic' factors in Africa. Of course, Swift is included in the 26 species they looked at.

Click for larger image
Some African migrants are increasing, including those which might have similar pressures to Swift, e.g. Swallow, House Martin and Sand Martin, but many are decreasing, especially Turtle Dove, Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher.

Two of the factors analysed are 'bioclimatic zone' with categories 'southern', 'humid', 'arid' and 'north', and 'winter habitat' with categories 'general', 'wetland', 'open' and 'wood'.

Swift is categorised as bioclimatic zone 'southern'  and winter habitat 'general'.

Wednesday 11 January 2012

AfS Church Porch Poster

If you would like to promote awareness of Swifts in your local church, then why not download and print the AfS Church Porch Poster to place on your church notice board?

Click for larger image

First click on the image to see it a bit larger, then go here and hit 'File>download'.

The wonderful picture of a Swift is courtesy of Tom Lindroos.
The picture of the church is by Helen.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

New light-weight geolocator for Swifts from Migrate Technology

Although we still wait to see published results, geolocators have already proved their effectiveness in tracking Swifts all the way from Europe to Africa and back. Particularly pleasing is that return rates are no worse than from ringed birds, showing that they have negligible impact on survival.

Now, Migrate Technology Ltd has announced a new range of devices, the Intigeo-W65 and Intigeo-W55, weighing 0.65gm and 0.55gm respectively. Especially attractive is the low price of these devices at £95 ex VAT.

Swift with Integeo-W55B1J geolocator
© Lyndon Kearsley
Novel in many ways, the manufacturer claims that this extremely energy efficient yet powerful miniature device will be the smallest geolocator available in the world to record near full range light level for an entire annual cycle. The device may be particularly useful for wader (shorebird) researchers or those studying highly aerial birds such as swifts, martins and swallows.

These new devices record, not only light levels for the determination of dawn and dusk for location, but also temperature and conductivity. Could temperature give an indication of the altitude that Swifts fly, given that temperature drops about 6.5°C for every 1km increase in altitude? Conductivity is unlikely to be useful with Swifts, but it could tell what kind of wet habitat a shorebird or waterbird is occupying.

This technology is in the process of causing a revolution in our knowledge of where Swifts and other small migrants spend their time in Africa.