Welcome to Swift Street - neighbours to erect 20 nest boxes to help iconic bird
PUBLISHED: 07:00 27 March 2019 | UPDATED: 10:41 27 March 2019
Residents in one Ipswich street have come together to provide much-needed accommodation for a threatened bird species.
People living on Marlborough Road are planning to erect 20 nest boxes, so swifts have safe places to rear their young when they return to the town this summer.
The conservation project is the idea of Marlborough Road residents Chris Courtney and Amanda Warren, who have already played host to nesting swifts and wanted to get more people from the local community involved.
Swifts, who over winter in Africa and return to the UK at the start of the summer to breed, have traditionally made their homes under roof tiles and in eaves but as houses have been modernised, so the number of potential nesting sites has been reduced. The RSPB says this is a major reason why the UK population of swifts has halved in the past 20 years.
In response, people have started erecting swift boxes, including Mr Courtney, who has six boxes on his house, plus some additional available holes where he has removed the soffit ventilation covers from his roof.
“When my neighbour Amanda, who is self-confessed swift aficionado, saw the frenzied activity around my boxes, she asked me to arrange for a swift box to be put up at her house too,” said Mr Courtney, who is vice-chair of Suffolk Bird Group.
“Last year, her second season, was rewarded with a nesting pair. Last summer was also my most successful season, with all six boxes in use, plus birds entering some of the other holes as well.”
This success spurred on the duo to distribute leaflets along the street to ask if any neighbours would like a nest box of their own.
“We have had a terrific response to the initiative, with 18 households ordering a total of 20 boxes,” said Ms Warren, who hopes the community spirit shown on her road will inspire other neighbourhoods to do something similar.
She said the project would not have got off the ground without the help of John Stimpson, a volunteer with the Swift Conservation charity, who provided the boxes at cost price, and local chimney sweep Marcus Webb, also a Marlborough Road resident, who has offered to use his ladders and work equipment to put the boxes up for free in good time for the swifts’ expected arrival in early May.
“It has been a great way to get to know our neighbours, and everyone is delighted to play their part in supporting this iconic species,” added Ms Warren.