Waveney Swifts

Swifts are in big trouble. The UK population is falling uncomfortably rapidly; but we can help.

They don’t require much from us – just spaces to raise their young, and aerial insects to feed on.

For many of us, a Summer without their ‘screaming parties’ shooting across the rooftops is unthinkable. Their expertise in catching prey items (particularly mosquitoes) has led to encouragement by civil authorities in some countries as an effective agent of public health (particularly where malaria, dengue fever and other diseases are prevalent, or a potential threat).

Waveney Bird Club is active in encouraging awareness of these marvellous birds and have planned two Spring/Summer projects in which you can participate.

  1. Swift Awareness Week

Events are taking place across the UK during the week commencing 18 June, aimed at making the public aware of Swifts and the problems they face – and hopefully, to do something about it.

In Beccles and Bungay, we are hosting a competition, to win Swift boxes – a very specific nest box, which can provide next year’s birds with the homes they so desperately need.

How to take part

  • 12 posters will be placed in shop windows in each town
  • Each numbered poster has a multiple-choice ‘Swift Question’ printed on it
  • You have to find all 12 posters and enter your answers on the form that you can download here (see below) or collect from Beccles/Bungay Libraries and Bells of Suffolk, Earsham St, Bungay 
  • Return the completed forms to Beccles/Bungay Libraries and place them in the Returns Box
  • Remember to put your preferred contact details on the form! (no use will be made of these details, other than to enter the competition and alert the winners)
  • Winners will be contacted in July by a Waveney Bird Club representative
  • A Swift Box will be presented to the first three correct forms out of the box in each town
  • The Bungay competition runs from Monday June 11 to Saturday June 23
  • The Beccles competition runs from Monday June 25 to Sunday July 8
  • The entry form is the same for both towns, so you can enter twice!
  1. ‘Swift Walk, Swift Pint…’

This was a successful event in Bungay last year, and is being repeated in both Beccles and Bungay on the early evening of Monday, July 2

The purpose is to survey the number of Swifts active in the air and to assess in which areas of the towns they are using as ‘bases’ for nesting and feeding.

How to take part

In Bungay, meet at the Butter Cross and in Beccles by the Clock Tower at 6.30pm.

The organisers will divide the participants into groups, and provide the groups with a colour-coded map of the town. All you have to do is walk your route (probably 30-40 mins maximum duration) and count all the Swifts you see in the air. (If you notice any emerging from/entering nests, please make a special note of that).

The groups will then re-convene at The Green Dragon, Broad St, (Bungay) and Waveney House Hotel (Beccles) at a time decided by the walk organisers to compile their numbers.

This is an important exercise as any conservation activity requires baseline data from which to work, so please take part.

We would particularly encourage Waveney Bird Club members to participate, particularly any with experience of survey work, such as the BTO’s Breeding Bird Survey and others.

That’s it for now, folks! Hope you find the time to have a go at the Swift Competition and/or the Swift Walk, Swift Pint event, and do your bit to encourage awareness of these fantastic migrants!

Photo: Dave Curtis / CC-BY-NC-ND-2