We need your help to find Swifts and their traditional nest sites in Anglican churches.  50 years ago most of our local parish churches had nesting Swifts.  Chris Mason brings us up-to-date  . . .

". . .  in my part of the country (North Oxfordshire) I reckon it’s roughly one church in seven, and even those will eventually disappear as essential repairs and maintenance work are carried out; or rather they would have disappeared.

But this is now much less likely as a result of an agreement reached with representatives of the Oxford Diocese (Berks, Bucks and Oxon).  The agreement is that if planned repairs will affect traditional nest sites, the sites will be left intact if possible, and if that can’t be done efforts will be made to create alternatives close by.

Also in appropriate cases the Diocese will look favourably at proposals to include Swifts bricks when major renovations are being undertaken, and at the idea of nest boxes behind louvred windows.  Major renovations are already planned for the church in Cropredy where Swifts still nest in a wall of the tower and we expect the church and the Swifts will benefit from the new agreement. Swifts have also nested for many years at the church in Kidlington. We hope the same will apply when the roof is eventually repaired there.

Further use of this approach in other churches is dependent on one thing – knowing which churches in these counties are being used by Swifts. At present I only have information about parts of Oxfordshire.

So this is a plea to anyone who knows of a church in these counties which has recently had nesting Swifts to report their whereabout to the volunteers below; and similarly to keep an eye out for Swifts entering nest holes in a local church, or indeed regularly screaming around the tower or spire.

Any reports for Berkshire please inform Jan Stannard: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Any reports for Oxfordshire please inform me: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
Any reports for Bucks please inform Sue Hetherington: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Parties of Swifts wheeling and screaming around village church towers and steeples are one of the glorious sights and sounds of an English summer. I hope we can keep it that way."

Introducing the Cherwell Swifts Conservation Project

The main aim of the Cherwell Swifts Conservation Project is to work with volunteers and the Cherwell District Council to find and protect Swifts’ traditional nest sites, to encourage provision of new nest sites and to develop pubic interest in Swifts and awareness of the risks they face.

Chris has just produced the most recent report on the work of the 2017 Swift Project in Oxfordshire and you still have access to the reports from previous years - the reports for 20132014 and 2016 can be downloaded here together with a map showing the sites in Banbury and Bloxham where the project has sited swift boxes.  Chris has also published a map showing the estimated number of swift nests by parish in Oxfordshire for 2018.

You may find the following links useful if you wish to learn more:

What to do if you find a grounded Swift:  for RSPB guidance click here

The Oxford Swift City Project will be launched in May 2017. For more information contact Project Officer, Lucy Hyde:   This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Bars and Spots - Mixed Fortunes of our Woodpeckers - Ken Smith

Ken Smith is a former research scientist with RSPB and has been studying woodpeckers for over 30 years but has always been heavily involved with local birding and recording through the Herts Bird Club, bird ringing and the BTO. Read more ...

Depending upon Covid-19 restrictions nearer the time this year's count may have to be posponed until restrictions have been lifted.  Please note further guidance will appear here and in the Newsletters nearer the time.

The Long Day Count is carried out by teams of observers in each of the twelve 10km squares recording the number of bird species seen during a maximum of 12 daylight hours on the second Sunday in May each year. Read more ...

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