Tuesday, 27 April 2021

Swift call players

 Coincidentally Edward Mayer, founder of Swift Conservation, posted this today. If you are using an attraction call player there is some good advice: 

 Some swifts are already back in their nests and they will
hopefully be back in numbers during the first couple of weeks of May,
then more, juveniles, will be arriving in June. The two best times to
attract Swifts are in May, when returning breeders may find their old
nest gone, and have to make a new one, and in July, when young Swifts,
yet to breed, try and find a nest place for the next breeding season, in
the next year. 

Call player in Trinity church, Penarth

Today we made running repairs to the call player that is used to try and attract Swifts to the church tower in Trinity Church, Penarth. 4 nest boxes have been installed inside the tower. Upon inspection, the old player was completely clogged up with Pigeon droppings. Howard came up with a clever ploy to place the new system downstairs and to run a speaker cable up to the boxes. Here is a photo of the new unit.


Swifts have already been seen over Cardiff Bay. Fingers crossed, we'll see them using some of our nesting boxes.

Sunday, 28 March 2021

 It's been a while since the blog was updated - well the Swifts have been sunning themselves in Africa. Not long now until they return to our shores.

We were delighted to welcome Edward Mayer to give the Glamorgan Bird Club and Cardiff RSPB a talk on Swifts via Zoom. Here is a short summary of what proved to be an excellent talk.

"Swifts - the birds you can help!" - Edward Mayer    Tuesday 2nd March 2021

Edward Mayer give us an insight into the lives of Swifts. We had 59+ participants. We were pleased to have local some Cardiff RSPB members, as well as a member of Bejing Swifts, as participants.

Edward’s delivery was both informative and entertaining. His enthusiasm shone through. He took us through the incredible journeys that Swifts undertake each year and highlighted some of the problems that they encounter en route.

 Swifts can eat 20,000 insects per day. Indeed one factor that Edward pointed out was that as Swift numbers decline, the number of insects naturally increase and this may have contributed to the spread of certain vector borne diseases in southern Europe.  Conversely we saw large tracts of agricultural land that had had so much insecticide applied that Swifts were struggling to find any food. Another aspect he emphasised was the fact that our cities were fast becoming our “new” nature reserves. Examples of the “greening” of cities were illustrated.

 We saw many nest sites ranging from pantile roofs to UPVC guttering.  He also pictured tree nesting Swifts in Poland and the Cairngorms. His main point was however the lack of nesting places in modern buildings and the move to hermetically seal our dwellings.

 We saw several designs of both Swift box and brick. He showed us the house of Erich Kaiser, a German Swift expert, who had 90 (yes, ninety!) swift bricks installed. Also featured were the tower in Cardiff Bay and a couple of our church tower projects.

 We rounded off with various schemes that had embraced Swifts as the focus of community schemes - a model which we could well investigate.

 Many thanks Edward.

 



Tuesday, 30 June 2020

Interesting article

Bernard Genton has been undertaking a study of Swift arrival dates in Switzerland. Arrival dates are a lot more complex than we realised. Interesting stuff.


Swift Awareness Week

27th June - 5th July 2020 has been designated Swift Awareness Week. Whilst we haven't been able to organise any events, the Glamorgan Swift Project has been using social media to spread the word about these fascinating birds. Hope you've managed to see some of our tweets and posts.

It's as if the Swifts know. There have been huge movements of Swifts down the east coast of England. Thousands of birds have been recorded passing over. Are these non-breeders? Is it the start of the southward migration?

Monday, 8 June 2020

Cardiff Bay Swift Tower

Unfortunately the call system failed just prior to the arrival of the Swifts. With the lockdown, we were unable to fix the problem but the good news is that in early June we have the call system working again. Perhaps a little late for this year but we are ever hopeful.

Summer 2020

Obviously all our events have been cancelled for the foreseeable future. We have been working behind the scenes however. Here's an article written by Ian Hartrey about a project he has been involved with in Penarth.

 The Swifts arrived back a couple of weeks earlier than normal this year, no doubt aided by the glorious spring weather in April. Reports from around the country indicate that many pairs laid earlier too. Oddly there was a second wave of arrivals in late May. Most of our activities have been severely hampered by the lockdown but work has been going on behind the scenes.

Ian Hartrey, one of our Swift Champions, has done some great work in Penarth. He has penned the following article:

A little over 2 years ago, we approached Newydd Housing regarding their plans to convert the St Paul’s Church and community building in Penarth into housing.  Swifts used to nest in the old buildings prior to demolition. We thought this could be a great opportunity to see if they could accommodate Swifts in their development.  Newydd proved to be willing partners and allowed us to correspond with their architects (CFW Architects Ltd) to offer suggestions, such as the siting of boxes. In all, 13 Swift boxes have been installed, plus 3 bat boxes.
 
 Now that the building is nearing completion, we are delighted to report that the boxes have  now been installed, as per the ecologist’s recommendations.  The building is scheduled to be completed in summer 2020.  Thanks must go to Darrel Powell at Newydd Housing and Darren Payne at CFW Architects for being open and willing to accommodate our requests.

 It just goes to show that if developers and contractors are contacted, they are often helpful and prove to be willing to  provide homes for nature.  All new developments really should have mitigation for wildlife (indeed many authorities state that there should be a net gain of biodiversity following development). Why not contact local authorities, housing associations and developers to ask them to consider accommodating biodiversity within their schemes?
   
It just goes to show that if developers and contractors are contacted, they are often helpful and prove to be willing to  provide homes for nature.  All new developments really should have mitigation for wildlife (indeed many authorities state that there should be a net gain of biodiversity following development). Why not contact local authorities, housing associations and developers to ask them to consider accommodating biodiversity within their schemes?
                                                                                                                                                                Ian Hartrey