Sunday 24 May 2015

Beijing Swift project preliminary results

Action for Swifts is delighted to have been involved in the Beijing Swift project where we attached 31 geolocators to Swifts at the Summer Palace in 2014 (see story). On 24th May 2015 we retrapped 13 of these birds, and downloaded all of the data successfully.

by Dick

Prior to this project, the journey made by these iconic birds - synonymous with Beijing since 1417 when they made their nests in the original city gatehouses, was a matter of speculation. We now know that they arrive in Beijing in April and, after breeding, begin their long journey to Africa in late July, taking a route that first leads them west-northwest into Mongolia, from where they pass north of the Tianshan mountains, then south through Iran and central Arabia into tropical Africa, before spending 3 months of the winter in Namibia and the Western Cape.

They begin the return journey in February, retracing a similar route on the way back, arriving in Beijing in mid-April, a journey that sees them cross about 20 borders. 

For the full story, read the Press release

One track of 13 geolocators recovered (click map to enlarge)

Lyndon Kearsley releasing a Swift with geolocator PhotZhang Weimin

Terry Townshend, right, releasing a Swift PhotZhang Weimin


Sunday 10 May 2015

Milton Country Park, Cambridge

Milton Country Park is an attractive local amenity, with trees, open spaces, lakes and a visitor centre. The visitor centre provides a suitable opportunity for some Swift boxes on one of its gable ends.

The park has a small staff of wardens and rangers and also a band of volunteers to help with maintenance and upkeep. The idea for Swift boxes came from Clarke Brunt, one of the volunteers who lives in Milton. Clarke has a successful colony of Swifts on his house which you can see online.

2 sets of 3 boxes, each with a double roof
The visitor centre has no eaves, and the gable end is quite exposed. So we made our own eaves by putting a double roof across 2 groups of 3 boxes, designed to fit the angle of the roof (18°). The roofs are covered with roofing felt.

The entrances are at the left (high) end of each box, as fitting cameras, eventually, will be made easier.

The result fits in with the architecture of the visitor centre.

A tweeter was attached to the side of the 2nd box from the left, driven by a Cheng Sheng player-amplifier.

Following future success with this project, there is scope for at least another 9 boxes on this gable end.

The double roof is effective in the mid-day sun
See Milton Country Park website