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The Swift Report for 2019

For a second year Swifts experienced cold and wet weather as they migrated north out of Africa into Europe across the Mediterranean, and many birds died from cold and starvation. Eventually our birds arrived back to their nesting sites and by June and July breeding was being documented in Birdtrack, with six figure grid references.

Lewes Swift Supporters group successfully re-formed and organised several walks to identify where Swifts bred in the town. Henfield have several good colonies and are increasing the number of boxes being put up. The Winchelsea group have even been on their local TV news highlighting public interest in increasing Swift nesting sites. A new initiative has been started in Battle, and in 2020 we aim to support them in expanding their proposed activities into Hastings. The Chichester Natural History Society put up an amazing number of Swift boxes around the city, and we responded to a request from the Chichester Festival Theatre to install Swift nest boxes there. The Brighton RSPB group through their volunteers continued to carry out their Swift surveys; and several churches in Sussex have now installed suites of Swift boxes within the church spire. New groups are springing up across Sussex with our help, as the importance of encouraging more Swifts to breed is realised as our climate warms which could bring alien mosquitoes and bugs to this country which Swifts will eat.

I have been the SOS Swift Champion for many years and have now passed this job to David Campbell who will be delighted to encourage new groups to look after their own local Swift colonies. To help get new groups started, we have developed a presentation on how to protect your Swifts, including instructions on how to carry out surveys to map where they are already nesting.

Please contact us at swifts@sos.org.uk so that we can increase the colonies of these wonderful birds across the whole of Sussex. The sound of their screaming parties around their nesting colonies is the special sound during the summer months of June and July.

Audrey Wende