Thursday, 15 December 2016


Ian Hartrey has been busy contacting builders in Penarth with a view to erecting more Swift boxes. To date the responses have been generally positive. One potential site is right opposite where Ian lives.

Dick Newell article

Dick Newell recently contributed an article on Swifts to Mark Avery's blog. Well worth a look.

Sunday, 4 December 2016

Swift boxes in Penarth

 Dave & Margaret Knight from Penarth, contacted us in November. As they had scaffolding up, they wondered whether we could supply Swift boxes. Unfortunately the wall that the boxes were to go on is south-facing. (Although Dick Newell, at the recent SLN meeting, indicated that south-facing is OK, as long as the boxes are thick walled and painted white). I delivered a couple of boxes to them and they are now up. This is an area where Swifts occur, so fingers crossed.

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Swift Local Network meeting - Bristol 19/11/2016

Julia Barrell, Linda Newton and myself attended the SLN meeting in Bristol Zoo. It was good to meet fellow Swift enthusiasts from right across the country. Several lectures were given on topics ranging from planning issues to nest box design, Swift cities and the use of social media to get the word out. We gathered lots of ideas that we hope to incorporate into our own project.

Monday, 31 October 2016

Progress update

Several meetings this autumn as part of our planning.

1. Meeting with RSPB to discuss HLF funding
2. Site meeting with Welsh Water to look at potential site for tower
3. Later this month (19/11/2016)  Julia, Linda and Alan will be attending the SLN meeting in Bristol

Sunday, 21 August 2016

RSPB Swift bricks

Found this article. worth a read:

With swift numbers and nesting sites in decline, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds (RSPB) has worked closely with Barratt Homes and Manthorpe Building Products to create a new swift nest box in a brick format which can then easily be fitted in any new home.
Providing more nesting sites for swifts has been one of the aims of the partnership between RSPB and Barratt Homes, which launched in 2014 to look at how nature and wildlife could be incorporated into new communities. Working together, they commissioned UK manufacturing company Manthorpe to develop a new swift nest box design that could be easily installed during construction.
Michael Finn, group design and technical director at Barratt Developments, said, “The bricks are an industry first – they are fully drained, ventilated and are unobtrusive, by matching the colour of the bricks. They also help nurture chicks by giving them room to stand when they hatch. Crucially too, they are much, much cheaper than any other swift brick on the market, which will help their uptake. We actively want other developers to use the brick so we can all help build swift populations. It’s a great example of how we are working together with the RSPB and the wider industry to support nature.”
Darren Moorcroft, RSPB’s head of species and habitats conservation, said, “In previous centuries builders would often create spaces for swifts, but these techniques have fallen out of practice with modern homes. Our partnership with Barratt Homes has allowed us to share ideas and look at how we can bring this practice back in a way that works for builders, home owners and the swifts.”
Gareth Wright, sales director at Manthorpe Building Products Ltd, said, “The product is already gaining a lot of interest and due to its ease of fitting and competitive price builders are able to incorporate this product into their new homes with no disruption to the build and no need to incorporate any design changes to existing house types.”
Dick Newell, Action for Swifts, said, “If we are to compensate the loss of thousands of Swift nesting places every year due to insulation and roof repairs, we need to deploy thousands of nest boxes.  A product like this is a great step forward in making this happen.”
Due to the desperate decline of the swift population RSPB and Barratt Homes have agreed that the swift box will be available to other builders and developers

Friday, 12 August 2016

HLF meeting

A meeting was held this morning in Cowbridge to discuss a potential HLF bid for funding for Swift towers. A lot of ground was covered ... lots of follow up action points.

Wednesday, 10 August 2016

Bridgend Summary

I was able to confirm nesting at three locations in Bridgend, as follows:

Heronsbridge School - two pairs minimum.
Oldcastle School - I saw one Swift fly onto a nest hole here, there could be more. Good to see House Martins also nesting here. The school is part of the eco scheme and would be a good site for boxes, but the height might be an issue.
Court Road - one definite nest on KTP Solicitors, although I think it likely that more are present, given the suitability of the buildings and birds overhead the area throughout the breeding season. Another suitable candidate for boxes.

I suspect breeding in Bridgend just north of the town centre (Coity Road area) and to the south at Preswylfa Court, given the presence of Swifts during the breeding season, but unable to confirm. 
Overall, though, it seems apparent that Swifts have declined in the town since I arrived in the 80s, with birds no longer nesting at a number of locations that used to hold them.

Sunday, 31 July 2016

Article in roofing magazine

As a member of the Local Swift Network forum, I occasionally get sent useful Swift info. Recently I received this from Edward Mayer, concerning an article in the latest edition of "Roofing today"

Friday, 29 July 2016

HLF bid

We are currently putting together a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for Swift towers. The first stage is to identify potential sites. If you have any suggestions, please get in touch.

P.S. There are still plenty of Swifts around. I saw 4 over Bedwas yesterday.

Friday, 15 July 2016


Mike and Jackie Pointon have visited Bedwas Junior School to undertake a Swift Q & A with the pupils. Mike says that many of the youngsters were pretty clued up and that they are putting together a video on Swifts. Watch this space.

Julia Barrell and I visited a householder in Roath today to investigate a potential site for Swift nest boxes. The site used to have Swifts some years ago but re-roofing led to their disappearance. It looks a promising area. Another potential project?

Friday, 8 July 2016

Cosmeston and Lavernock

There were quite a few Swifts over Cosmeston Lakes on Wednesday (6th July) and I note that Andy Burns reported good numbers at Lavernock on the same date. Are they on the move?

Friday, 1 July 2016

Birdwatch article

There was an interesting article on the Birdwatch News Archive today concerning GPS tagging of Swifts in Northern Ireland. Well worth a read.

Political support

The Welsh Assembly government has recently appointed a series of species champions. I was delighted to see that the Swift is being championed by Jenny Rathbone AM.

Thursday, 30 June 2016


Seeing a few Swifts flying around near the house this afternoon prompted me to go and check upper Penarth. Around St. Augustine's Church there were around 12 birds, plus a further 20 above Uppercliff Drive nearby. They were feeding in drizzly rain and I saw no evidence of visiting nest sites although some of the houses around the church look suitable. The houses around Uppercliff drive are all fairly modern and probably do not have suitable roff entry. The Sifts were greatly outnumbered by the House Martins feeding above the churchyard and surrounding area, which numbered around 100.

Wednesday, 29 June 2016


I visited Heronsbridge School in Bridgend today, following the tip-off about nesting Swifts from Paul and Emma. It was hosing down so I didn't spend too long investigating the nest site, however it looks like there might be two or three pairs here. Julie Blackwell, the eco-co-ordinator was very interested to learn more about Swifts. There is plenty of potential here for a nest box scheme, although, as ever the major problem would be siting them.

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Help needed in Splott

Julia and Linda have been out surveying in Splott. They would like some help to complete their survey of the area. If you can help, please get in touch with Alan (01443 841555/07906558489).

Thursday, 16 June 2016

Bridgend - update

I haven't yet had chance to properly revisit the areas where I previously saw Swifts in Bridgend, but heard today of a nest on Heronsbridge School from Mike and Emma Cram. Emma got talking to Julie Blackwell of Heronsbridge and it transpires they are looking for things to do towards their Platinum Eco award. The school is a traditional nesting location and this would surely be an ideal place for nest boxes. Heronsbridge is next door to Bridgend College, another known breeding location in the town.

Also today my memory was jogged to recall that Swifts used to nest on Oldcastle School, where my children went to primary school. I walked past there this evening and saw several Swifts screaming around the school, so it seems likely that the site is still active. In addition, my wife has been seeing Swifts around the railway station area on her way to catch her train for work, so I have recruited her on nest spotting duties!

I'll keep you posted on any further developments.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

HLF workshop

I attended an HLF (Heritage Lottery Fund) workshop this morning at Parc Slip. The idea was to investigate potential funding streams for upcoming Swift projects. The presentations gave much room for thought, pointing out dos and don'ts when applying for grant aid. It'll be a long haul but fingers crossed we'll get some funding in the future.
Alan Rosney
P.S. Keep searching for those Swift nests. We are keeping a database of nests found. Currently we are up to about 16 definites and a few possibles.

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Article from the Guardian

Paul Seligman sent in this article by Stephen Moss from the Guardian on 13th June.

For Britain’s breeding birds – especially those migrants that spend only a short time here before heading back to their winter home in Africa – June is a crucial month.
Plentiful sunshine – June is usually the sunniest month of the year in England and Wales, thanks to the long hours of daylight – provide the vast amounts of insects and invertebrates that these birds require to feed their young.
This sunlight-fuelled source of energy is crucial: if their youngsters are to be fit and healthy enough to make the epic journey south in the autumn, they need to get enough food during this time of plenty.
Some Junes bring perfect weather for aerial hunters such as swallows, martins and swifts. These species feed on the tiny insect plankton that hangs invisibly in the air on still summer days, so if June is cooler and wetter than normal – as in 2012, which was the dullest since 1909 – they struggle to find enough food for their weak and hungry youngsters.
For some species, this means disaster. Unless the weather improves, they will not have enough time to raise a second brood before autumn arrives. But the swift has a clever trick up its sleeve.
During spells of bad weather, these aerial acrobats fly hundreds of miles away to avoid getting soaked. Meanwhile their young enter a state of torpor, reducing their energy consumption so they can survive for days without food. Once the weather improves, the adult swifts return to the nest laden with insects, and resume breeding.

Sunday, 12 June 2016

Article in the Dipper

Many thanks to Mike and Jackie Pointon who submitted the following article to the 2016 summer edition of  "The Dipper", the newsletter of the Gwent Ornithological Society

Nest boxes for Swifts in Bedwas                                                     Mike and Jackie Pointon


The sight and sound of Swifts flying over the village of Bedwas was one of the joys of summer. Sadly in recent years the numbers have diminished and last year only three pairs bred here. The birds nested on the eaves of older buildings, in particular the Junior School and Police Station. There were often more Swifts about in early May than actually stayed to breed so Jackie and I had the idea that nest boxes might boost the number breeding at the school.

Alison Jones, Caerphilly County Ecologist, was contacted and we met up at the school to view the site and discuss the idea with the headmaster Mr. Warren. Bedwas Junior School is a Green School and the idea of nest boxes was greeted with enthusiasm. Katie Hillier, a teacher at the school, agreed to coordinate activities. Alison suggested that Andy Wilkinson, Senior Environment Ranger for Caerphilly Borough Council, get involved and he came to the school to make nest boxes with the pupils. This activity was a great success and the pupils were very proud of their nest box building, making boxes for Blue Tits as well as Swifts. The school had by this time purchased three Swift nest boxes from the RSPB and it was time to get them installed. Kate Hillier managed to persuade Caerphilly County Borough Council maintenance department to carry out this work and on Friday 18th March five nest boxes for Swifts were erected. The nest holes were intially covered up and opened on 1st May.

Prior to housing development in the village Lesser Whitethroats were regular breeders. Since that time also the number of House Martins has reduced dramatically and there is no longer a local Sand Martin colony on the River Rhymney.

On 11th May BBC Radio Wales came to Bedwas Junior School having heard about the Swift nest box project via Alan Rosney, the Glamorgan Bird Club Swift Champion. (Alan not having a swift nest box site in Glamorgan asked Jackie and me if he could use the Bedwas Junior School project which, is actually in the Gwent recording area). Swift nest boxes San Frontiers!

On the day the Swifts must have been informed that the Beeb were in town as they put on a tremendous display, calling and flying low over the school. Pauline Smith of BBC Wales interviewed the pupils and their teacher Katie Hillier. The children were delighted to be involved and get their chance to be on the radio. Pauline then interviewed Alan and myself to give some background on the project and specific information on Swifts. The programme Country Focus was broadcast on Sunday 15th may at 07:03 and is available on BBC iplayer for a further month.

Currently there are eight Swift in Bedwas (last year there were six) and we have seen them using the traditional nest sites in the school , though none have yet been seen occupying the nest boxes.

On Thursday 19th May Jackie and I met up with Kerry Galey from Caerphilly County Borough Councils parks department. Kerry is the warden of the Rhymney River Walk which passes through Bedwas and Trethomas. We had suggested to Kerry that we should encourage Sand Martins back to nest in the area as they did at one time. We located a likely looking spot and plans are now afoot to create suitable nesting habitat ready for next year.

It has been rewarding for everyone concerned to attempt to boost the number of Swifts breeding in Bedwas. We must wait now to see if the project is a success. It has already been agreed, if things work out well, that a camera should be put in one of the boxes ready for next year so that the pupils can view the secret world of Swifts.

Monday, 6 June 2016

More boxes from Pencoed College

Lyn Evans and his volunteer team have been busy making more boxes. To date they have made 16 - brilliant. Some are destined for Parc Slip but we are still monitoring for further potential sites for these boxes.

Wednesday, 1 June 2016

Article from the Times

Paul Seligman sent us an article that he'd seen in the Times with some interesting observations on Swift behaviour.

Monday, 30 May 2016


I had a cycle around town this evening and noted Swifts at three locations:

- Bridgend College, where maximum of nine around the complex.
- Near the railway station (Court Road/Station Hill), where six seen.
- In the area between Quarella Road and Cemetery Road, north of the town centre, where at least five.

I will try to revisit these areas in a couple of weeks to see if I can locate any nests.

Friday, 27 May 2016

Training event - Llantwit Major

There were nine participants for our training event in Llantwit Major. The weather was good and we immediately saw several Swifts over the town. Initially there were three or four Swifts seen but numbers built up to seven or eight. We concentrated on the older buildings in the town centre, eventually locating one nest site in the Old School building. Other birds seemed to be favouring the area around the church tower, although we couldn't find specific nest sites.

There is obviously a small colony here. As a result we decided to set up a nest box scheme (with the help of local resident, Gareth Roberts). Three boxes were presented and a call system will be purchased.

The following photos show the nest site that we found and some of the participants in the training event. Many thanks to all those who took part.

Tuesday, 24 May 2016

Radio Wales interviews

Paul Seligman managed to extract the interviews from the Country Focus programme, aired on 15th May. You can access it by clicking the link below:

Monday, 23 May 2016

Training event

We've decided to go for Thursday 26th in Llantwit Major. Meet in the Old Swan at 7.30 p.m.

Thursday, 12 May 2016

Training event

The Swifts are back. It is time to get out surveying. We have planned an evening training event to help participants identify Swift nest sites. It  will be very weather dependent, so we need to set aside a few dates. Initially we have set aside the 24th, 26th, 31st May and 2nd June in the Llantwit Major/Cowbridge area. Please keep an eye on your e-mails, as we'll need to confirm much closer to the chosen date. Hope you are able to come along.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

Radio Wales

Radio Wales interviewed some of the pupils from Bedwas Junior School today for the Country Focus programme. (to be broadcast on Sunday 15th May at 7 a.m.). As luck would have it, eight Swifts were screaming overhead as the interviews were taking place. They appear to have returned to their nest sites.

Wednesday, 4 May 2016


There were 4 Swift circling high over Penarth town centre this afternoon so time perhaps watch out at your locations for activity.

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

We're in the press

The following article appeared in the Glamorgan Gem on 21st April. Mike Pointon and I are also being interviewed for Radio Wales's "Country Focus" programme in May. I'll let you know when it is going out.

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Friday, 15 April 2016

Swift tower for Merthyr

Brilliant news. Gerald Lewis, the parks manager for Merthyr has arranged for a Swift tower (with call system) to be erected in Parc Taf Bargoed. It has 8 chambers and was constructed by the local RNIB.


Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Pencoed College Swift Boxes

Lyn Evans from Pencoed College has been busy making boxes with his volunteer students. They've made 8 so far. Brilliant job.

Friday, 8 April 2016

More Swift News

Julia and I had a meeting this afternoon. The discussion was wide ranging but we concentrated on achieving the goals set out in our bid to WOS.
1. Awareness Raising:
We discussed a press release, that will go out in the next couple of weeks, to coincide with the Swift's arrival. We have already had contact with Radio Wales with a view to advertise the project. Swansea Council, are also keen to expand the project in to the city. We decided to ask Mark Hipkin's advice here. We hope to get NRW and WTSWW involved in some way. The possibility of a talk from Swift Conservation was broached.
2. The monitoring of Swift nest sites:
Finding out exactly where our Swifts nest, via our Swift Champions was next. Julia suggested a training event in late May/early June, probably in Llantwit Major. The weather will be a crucial factor.
3. Erection of boxes:
Boxes have already gone up in Bedwas. It was decided to delay putting more up until we have firm data. Different sites need different box designs (eg. if under eaves or not) Similarly we are holding back any decision on purchasing a call system.
4. Review of progress:
This will not be undertaken until next year.

It was decided to set up an e-mail group of our Swift Champions (we may ask for mobile numbers later) to advise of training events etc. Invites to become authors on this blog were to be sent out.

Sunday, 3 April 2016

Grant from the Welsh Ornithological Society

Great news. We submitted a bid to WOS in February and have been awarded £400 towards our project. (plus a £200 grant from the Glamorgan Bird Club). The bid was spread over two years with the first year (this summer) being mainly exploratory i.e. finding out the exact locations where Swifts are nesting. The plan is to then target three or four areas (or more if we can do it) for a bird box scheme. The bulk of the money will go towards the purchase of boxes, wood etc., plus we plan to purchase a "call system" which will advertise the location of the boxes to passing Swifts. The main problem we are likely to have is erecting the boxes. As Swifts nest fairly high up it is often necessary to use scaffolding or cherry pickers to fix them in place and this can be very expensive. Luckily the boxes put up in Bedwas Junior School were erected by Caerphilly Council employees, with guidance from Mike Pointon. If you are planning to put up boxes please consult before doing so as there is a list of dos and donts when placing boxes.

Saturday, 2 April 2016

Welcome to the Glamorgan Swift Project

This blog has been created so that our Swift Champions can keep in touch and report on progress.