Looking back to 2020
Around the town, swifts in Woodbridge surpassed our expectations last summer. Despite the slow start, by July we were able to see and hear screaming parties at a variety of sites at different times of the day. On our ‘socially distanced’ swift walk from the car park in early July, we started with swifts in Brook Street, then observed them entering under the pantiles of a house at the back of Thoroughfare. We followed this by watching them enter roofs in New Street near the Old Mariner pub and then by The Bell and Steelyard.
Our records of nests in the town are most pleasing. We have 43 nests in 32 roofs, and 17 occupied nest boxes, giving us a total of 60 nests.
Swift interest in our boxes, especially those in groups of 3 or more and with a swift call sound system has been much increased. Swifts are attracted by the sounds of other swifts calling and we have several records of swifts entering boxes with call systems – appearing to ‘try them out’. So, we should be optimistic for this year.
We were awarded an AONB grant in March 2020, just as the Covid restrictions began, for the purchase and donation of nest boxes and swift call sound systems on suitable buildings in Woodbridge. In spite of the limitations, we have found places for 30 nest boxes and 4 sound systems. The Riverside Cinema and the Deben Rowing Club on the river wall Woodbridge have six each of these and a sound system. These will be installed as soon as restrictions permit. There are already boxes on the Deben Leisure Centre, Whisstocks, the Cruising Club and the Tide Mill, so these will provide a real opportunity for swifts to nest near to the river and water meadows.
Swifts nest in colonies, so with the help of the AONB grant we have also been adding boxes and sound systems near to existing occupied boxes or nest sites in roofs on a number of properties around the town. This will give spare capacity for returning juveniles to enlarge the colony.
Looking ahead to Spring 2021 and the arrival of our swifts in May
You can install nest boxes for 2021, by contacting woodbridge.swifts @gmail.com. We sell boxes for £25.00 and you can collect them in Woodbridge by arrangement. Swifts will be returning by the end of the first week of May so there is plenty of time. But for new boxes, the critical time is June and July when screaming parties of juveniles will be seeking suitable nest sites, to return to next year.
Sound systems are available from: Peak Boxes: https://peakboxes.co.uk/
Nest box cameras
For many of us, this is the next step, especially if you suspect that swifts are visiting or nesting. You really want to see what is going on inside the boxes. They do fly in and out so quickly that they are difficult to spot. For details of camera supplies and use see: https://www.green-feathers.co.uk/products/wifi-bird-box-camera
Follow the links to News: Swifts on Screen – https://www.rspb.org.uk/groups/woodbridge
Please report to us any observations you make of swifts entering roofs under tiles or soffits, they may well be nesting. Also any occupied nest boxes.
Jenny James: firstname.lastname@example.org
Eddie Bathgate SOS Swifts: email@example.com