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East Anglia Future 50

Donors flock to make student nest box project a reality

PUBLISHED: 08:00 20 February 2019

Colchester Sixth Form College student Gemma Polley with one of the swift boxes Picture: Michael Padmore

Colchester Sixth Form College student Gemma Polley with one of the swift boxes Picture: Michael Padmore

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Student conservationists are hoping to attract a colony of swifts after nest boxes were installed at Colchester Sixth Form College.

Colchester Sixth Form College maintenance supervisor Andrew Harding instals swift boxes and speakers Picture: Michael PadmoreColchester Sixth Form College maintenance supervisor Andrew Harding instals swift boxes and speakers Picture: Michael Padmore

At total of 14 boxes were fixed beneath the eaves of one of the school’s buildings.

Swifts are naturally cliff-nesting birds that have adapted to thrive in the roof spaces of houses and churches but as the construction of buildings has changed, so swift numbers have declined drastically.

The purchase of the boxes and speaker system that plays swift ‘screams’ to attract the fast-flying birds to the nests, was made possible through a generous contribution by Essex Wildlife Trust’s Colchester group.

READ MORE: Hopes Sudbury swift box project will inspire more public buildings to follow suit

Swift numbers have dropped by 50% in past 20 years, partly because nest sites have disappearedSwift numbers have dropped by 50% in past 20 years, partly because nest sites have disappeared

Cherry-picker

Acting chair of the group, Diane Cattermole, said: “The installation of the Colchester Sixth Form College swift nest boxes is exactly the sort of local wildlife initiative that we like to support.”

Liam Monahan of Richard Fordham Tree Surgeons in Bures also helped to make the college’s nest box appeal a reality by bringing along a cherry-picker for the day and giving his time for free, so that the boxes could be fitted high up. Swift expert John Smart also advised throughout the project.

The swift nest box appeal is the latest conservation project at the college, reflecting widespread concern among young people about mass extinctions and climate change.

Threatened species

The underside of one of the swift boxesThe underside of one of the swift boxes

Gemma Polley was one of the students who paid to sponsor a nest box. The 18-year-old is planning to study Ecology and Conservation at the University of East Anglia in the future.

She said: “I got involved with the project because of my passion for the environment and because of my conviction that we need to do more to save threatened species.

“Many students are becoming more environmentally conscious, and more aware of what we must do to save our local wildlife and the entire planet. Swifts don’t only need somewhere to nest; they also need insects and spiders to feed on.”

READ MORE: Judith’s labour of love gives swifts another chance of life on the wing

Superb views

Colchester Sixth Form College is developing a reputation as somewhat of centre for birding.

Later this spring, the college will be running its Peregrine Watch Point for the second year, inviting members of the public to enjoy superb views of the falcons, which have chosen to nest on Jumbo, Colchester’s landmark water tower.

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