Caistor Area Swift Group
An Introduction by
This group was formed this year (2018) after the inspirational talk on swifts by Tanya and Edmund Hoare at the Market Rasen Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust Group. They highlighted the dramatic decline in swift numbers as a result of people renovating buildings and sealing up original nest entrances.
We plan to survey the local swift populations, raise awareness of the decline in swifts and what we can do to help them. We have representatives from Caistor, Nettleton, Grasby, Osgodby and North Kelsey. We have joined the Swifts Local Network and the Swift Conservation Group. These websites provide lots of information about life cycles, migration, surveying populations and nesting sites, nest boxes and attraction calls.
Swift Awareness Week
In 2018 the first national Swift Awareness Week took place to inform people about swifts and the decline in their numbers. From 16th-23rd June 2018 we had display boards at the Heritage Centre and the Dunn Deal, where you could also buy swift shaped biscuits. At the Heritage Centre there was also a craft morning for children on the 16th June 2018 to make a swift mobile. Information leaflets, a nest box and an attraction call box were on display. There was also a video about swifts in Sedburgh, Tanya and Edward Hoare’s home town. People on an evening ‘Swift Walk’ around Caistor on Thursday saw swifts entering their nest sites and heard screaming groups of swifts around the Market Place and South Street.
As part of the roof repairs at Caistor Church a multiple nest box was installed in the Tower, taking opportunity of the internal scaffolding to place and secure it.
The second National Swift Awareness Week is from Sat 22nd to Sun 30th June 2019, in fact not a week at all now.On March 23rd 2019 at 1pm in Caistor Heritage Centre there will be a meeting to plan our year ahead and also our Swift Awareness Week activities.
The first sighting this year was the arrival of three swifts on the evening of 8th May. Since then eleven nest sites have been identified in Caistor, a couple in Nettleton, two in Osgodby and one in Searby. There will be a few more because groups of up to thirty swifts were screaming over Caistor in the summer. It is difficult to identify the nest sites because the swifts enter so quickly under the eaves and pantiles. Two dead swifts were found on the road where they had flown into lorries or buses on South Street. and Plough Hill and three more deaths have been reported to us. We also had at least three successful swift launchings after the birds had been found on the ground in separate incidents. The majority of swifts had set off on their migration to Western Africa by August 6th with a couple remaining which presumably still had young about to fledge.
Groups of swifts flying and screaming together had also been seen in North Kelsey, Rothwell, around the petrol station on the road to Willingham Woods in Market Rasen, at the junction from Market Rasen with the A46 at Middle Rasen and ‘The Row’ in Osgodby . So the project for next year is to identify more sites.
The weather this year has been wonderful for the swifts. They haven’t had to travel far to collect insects so it should have been a successful year for numbers of swifts raised, but we have no way of knowing because once they leave the nest they can set off on migration and do not land again until they return to breed as 3 or 4 year olds.
So What Next?
The nest box has been installed in the tower at St Peter’s Church in Caistor with an attraction call playing. Hopefully when the swifts return next year they will nest there. We contacted Caistor Town Council requesting that swift boxes be installed in the Town Hall while the scaffolding was in place for the roof works. A week later four swift bricks had been installed in the wall facing the Co-op. Many thanks to the Council for their help and we hope the swifts appreciate them when they return next May.
Swifts are social birds and prefer to nest together in the same areas. When roofing work is taking place we can request that nest sites are protected, swift boxes put under the eaves or ‘swift bricks’ (nest sites) put into walls. We can also look at planning applications and request the inclusion of swift bricks. We will try to find people in other villages to identify nest sites. A meeting will be arranged in the autumn to review the year and plot our way forward. The date will be put on this website. If you have any information or would like to be involved you can contact us by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Swift Conservation web site has an abundance of further information.
A range of useful leaflets are available from Swift Conservation. You can find them here.