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.