Jenny James of Woodbridge Swifts updates on how town welcomes the annual return of these acrobatic visitors
Woodbridge Swifts has been actively protecting and providing nesting sites for the town’s swifts since 2016. To date, the group has recorded nest sites, sold more than 100 nest boxes for installation on buildings in Woodbridge and run a campaign to raise awareness of the need for roof repairs to be swift friendly.
Last summer, the annual visit from the swifts exceeded our expectations, despite a slow start. The adults usually return to their previous year’s nest site in early May, followed by the juveniles in June/July time, who will be looking for prospecting for next year’s nest sites. By July we were able to see and hear screaming parties (when a group of swifts fly together and call loudly to each other) over several parts of the town at different times of the day
On our socially distanced swift walk from the car park last July we started with swifts in Brook Street, then observed them entering under the pantiles of a house at the back of Thoroughfare. We then watched them enter roofs in New Street near the Old Mariner and then by The Bell and Steelyard.
Swifts are colonial birds and they prefer to nest in groups. To encourage more to nest in town, we are putting up nest boxes in groups of up to six and playing a recording of swift calls to lure the swifts to our boxes! This has been a very successful tactic and swift interest in our boxes increasing, we hope more will return to nest this summer.
We currently have around 60 nests in Woodbridge, and are hoping for more this year, thanks to an AONB grant which we received in March 2020 for the purchase and donation of nest boxes and sound systems.
We have found places for 30 new nest boxes and four sound systems including the Deben Rowing Club on the river wall and the Riverside Cinema – each have six boxes and a sound system. There are already boxes on the Cruising Club, the leisure centre, Whisstocks’ flats and the Tide Mill, so together these will provide a real opportunity for swifts to nest near to the river and water meadows where they feed.
Other new boxes we’ve donated have been installed near known nests in New Street, Seckford Street and on other buildings in town where swifts are already nesting in roofs or boxes, particularly where swifts have been seen investigating previously.
Swift walk: Sunday July 4 at 7.30 pm
If you are interested in seeing these wonderful birds for yourself, why not join us for a walk around the town to observe known nest sites and to seek out more. Restrictions permitting, we might finish up at The Old Mariner, New Street, for a drink too!
Meet in the main car park at the top of Brook Street at 7.30pm and let us know if you are planning to come along in advance via email so we can keep you posted, just in case there are any changes of plan – firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information, please contact Jenny James: email@example.com or Eddie Bathgate SOS Swifts: firstname.lastname@example.org Further details can be found at www.rspb.org.uk/groups/woodbridge or on Facebook RSPB Woodbridge Local Group
Picture by Jenny James