Tuesday 30 October 2012

Ely Maltings

In 2009, Bill Murrells noticed renovations being made to the roof of The Maltings in Ely, Cambs. The work was too advanced for anything to be done that year to save the Swifts breeding there, so the loss of a breeding season could not be avoided. 

Written by Dick

A well pleased Bill Murrells
Swift nest in hand
But Bill got permission to install 10 nest boxes under the eaves, custom built by John Stimpson. Over the years there has been evidence of House Sparrows nesting in the new nest-boxes, but we had no evidence of Swifts returning to the building, so we thought it about time to get up on a ladder and take a look.

The boxes could be inspected by removing the bottom. The first eight boxes contained partial and complete House Sparrow nests, there were even discarded sparrow eggs in 2 of the boxes.

However the 9th box contained a House Sparrow nest, with a Swift's nest on top of it, and a few distinctive Swift droppings scattered around. Unlike all of the other boxes, there was no sign of any sparrow droppings.

The swift nest is a neat cup built on top of the sparrow's 'haystack'.
Invertebrates have reduced the feathers to their shafts.  

Most of the Swift nest material was from a previous year, just the remains of feather shafts, with only one new feather.

We also had the good fortune to run into the management of The Maltings, who is willing to allow attraction call playing in 2013. With any luck, the Maltings will have a vibrant Swift colony again.

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