The summer months are the time to listen for the cries of swifts and watch their artistic and impressive flight skills, but for how much longer? Swifts are some of the most awe-inspiring birds to visit Britain for their brief summer, spending most of their lives in flight and landing only to nest, but a new report confirms their decline in Dorset in the past few years due to a lack of suitable nest sites.
More about the project
Dorset Wildlife Trust, in partnership with the RSPB and Swift Conservation, launched the Swift Project in 2010 to monitor the birds’ status and to help stop the decline by raising awareness of their needs. Thanks to the project there were significantly more records in 2010 than in the 9 previous years. The new Swift Report shows that sightings are concentrated around towns where suitable old buildings provide nest sites, with nesting swifts reported in Beaminster, Wareham, Wimborne, Bridport and Dorchester. Planners, homeowners and developers in these hotspots are particularly urged to ensure that swift friendly features are considered in new buildings to enhance breeding opportunities.
Nicky Hoar, Communications Officer at Dorset Wildlife Trust, said: “The sightings have proved very valuable in showing where we still have swifts in Dorset and they confirm our fears that there are very few remaining nest sites. Knowing the locations of the birds and understanding their behaviour is essential for making further steps towards their protection, as nesting sites for swifts can be identified, potential threats removed and new opportunities can be found. It is vital that no more nest sites are lost so we would urge home owners in swift hotspots to look at the advice on the website before doing any improvements.”
How can I spot a swift?
The first swifts have already been seen in the county and numbers will build up during the exceptionally brief nesting season from May to July. Most swifts will have left for Africa before August. They can be distinguished from swallows and martins by their scythe-like wings and their flight gives the illusion that they are turning over in the air. Near to nest sites, their distinctive ‘screaming’ can be heard.
You can see the Swift Report, record your sightings and find out how to help here.
Notes to Editor
For more information please contact Nicky Hoar at Dorset Wildlife Trust on 01305 264620.
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Swifts The number of breeding swifts in the south-west has fallen by around 40% since the 1990s, with the decline thought to be because of the lack of available nesting sites. The Dorset Swifts project was launched by Dorset Wildlife Trust in partnership with the RSPB, Dorset Environmental Records Centre and Swift Conservation, to help swifts before it is too late. The plight of the swift is linked to its habit of nesting in the roofs and eaves of old buildings, many of which are being demolished or refurbished, closing off the nest sites. Relying on the availability of older properties, swifts are found mainly in towns
About Dorset Wildlife Trust www.dorsetwildlifetrust.org.uk
Working for a secure future for Dorset’s wildlife enriching the quality of life Dorset Wildlife Trust works to champion wildlife and natural places, to engage and inspire people and to promote sustainable living. Founded in 1961, DWT is now the largest voluntary nature conservation organisation in Dorset, with over 25,000 members and over 40 nature reserves. Most are open daily and there are visitor centres providing a wealth of wildlife information at Brooklands Farm, Lorton Meadows, Kingcombe Meadows and Brownsea Island Nature Reserves, The Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and the Urban Wildlife Centre at Upton Heath Nature Reserve. DWT plays a key role in dealing with local environmental issues and leads the way in establishing the practices of sustainable development and engaging new audiences in conservation, particularly in the urban areas.
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There are 47 individual Wildlife Trusts covering the whole of the UK and the Isle of Man and Alderney. All are working for an environment rich in wildlife for everyone. We have more than 800,000 members including 150,000 members of our junior branch Wildlife Watch. Our vision is to create A Living Landscape and secure Living Seas. We manage around 2,300 nature reserves and every year we advise thousands of landowners and organisations on how to manage their land for wildlife. We also run marine conservation projects around the UK, collecting vital data on the state of our seas and celebrating our amazing marine wildlife. Every year we work with thousands of schools and our nature reserves and visitor centres receive millions of visitors. Each Wildlife Trust is working within its local communities to inspire people about the future of their area: their own Living Landscapes and Living Seas.