Swifts in the belfry
The swift no longer breeds in Plumpton, where it stopped nesting in the church and one other place in the 1980s.
Although still abundant in some parts of the country, it is sad to note that the swift has recently been added to the RSPB’s Amber List of species with a significantly declining breeding population.
There are organisations that have been set up to help stop the decline. The Sussex Ornithological Society has its own programme of monitoring and help for the species. Nationally there are organisations such as Action for Swifts. Help includes the encouragement of nesting opportunities in new and renovated buildings.
In spring 2010, in an effort to persuade this spectacular bird to return to the village, and with the willing help of local builder and bird enthusiast Steve Bodsworth, we installed nest chambers into Plumpton’s All Saints church tower. There are six units, each with six nest chambers. These units are based on designs used with some success in churches in the Cambridge area. By providing nest chambers,we hope to encourage the species to re colonise. A number of other nesting box designs are available for other situations, including houses.
Our nest chambers had no takers in 2010/2011, so in 2012 we invested in a ‘Box of Swifts’ – a swift call player designed to attract passing swifts to the tower (available from Action for Swifts). This has proved successful elsewhere but we are still waiting for birds to find the tower and colonise it.