Caistor Area Swift Group
An Introduction by Ann Cross
This group was formed in 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.
We have information stands at various events so call and see us. Mayor's Fair in Caistor, Open Farm Sunday at Sutton Estates, Pub that's not a Pub in Osgodby And Claxby Open Gardens.
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.
Observations and Events
The first swift was sighted May 2nd/3rd but this one probably moved on. The main body of swifts arrived around May 9th. Unfortunately there were 5 days of heavy rain not long after when the swifts disappeared until fine weather returned. The first reports of swifts entering under eaves began around May 22nd. I have assumed that a nest site exists when a swift has been reported entering a roof space but there is no way of knowing if swiftlets were successfully reared.
Swifts may have nested at our new sites previously we just didn't know about them.
Swifts have been seen screaming around Rothwell, North Kelsey and Market Rasen but no specific nest sites have been identified. A grounded swift was reported in Bigby, that is the only one I have heard of this year unless you know differently.
In Caistor there seem to be groups in North St, South St, North Kelsey Rd and the bottom of Navigation Lane. This is based on small groups flying low around the houses at dusk. Swifts have also been seen around the church towers at Caistor and Nettleton, presumably attracted to the callers.
Most of the swifts had departed when I returned to Caistor on August 9th (does anyone know when they left?). A couple of nest sites were visited fairly regularly for a week longer.
Unfortunately we don't think that the nest boxes and bricks were used in Caistor, hopefully they will be next year. Nest boxes have been fitted into Nettleton Church and the attraction call played from the middle of June.
Events in 2019
Our information boards and leaflets have travelled and more people are beginning to know that we have swifts in the Caistor Area. They have been to Caistor Easter Fair at the Town Hall, the Heritage Centre during the Open Garden events (thanks to the cafe for providing swift biscuits and swift stencil toppings to the cappuccinos), Osgodby Fair and the pop up Pub that's not a pub, Open Farm Sunday at Sutton Estates, Market Rasen Lincolnshire Wildlife Trust meetings at Tealby and Caistor and Claxby Open Gardens.
During Swift Awareness Week we had a display in Boots window in Caistor Market Place and twenty people attended the excellent Swift Walk around the town centre where we watched swifts screaming around. We found a new nest site as one swift entered under the eaves on cue.
Assemblies based on Swifts have taken place at Caistor Primary and Osgodby primary schools.
A meeting will be held in the near future to decide on our next steps and how to encourage West Lindsey Council to advise on the inclusion of swift boxes into new buildings of a suitable height.
One very pleasing thing we have learned this year is that swifts are finding holes in modern houses with plastic soffits so there is hope for them. Also I woke up to swift squeals most mornings in July as the swifts flew along Bobs Lane and South St, a beautiful way to start the day.
The dates the 2020 'Swift Awareness Week' are 27th June to July 5th. There will be a meeting to plan for this in late April/May.
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: email@example.com
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.