Did you know that Hurstpierpoint used to have a thriving swift population? The call of swifts as they swoop high in the sky is usually one of the iconic sounds of the summer. However all is not well with these migratory birds; their decline has been noticeable over the past few summers.
One of Hurst Rethink’s main aims is to protect and encourage biodiversity in the village and when bird lover Rebecca Rees approached us to put together a project to protect our local swift population, we were only too glad to help.
Swifts migrate north from Africa to the same nesting sites in the UK year after year. They favour nooks and crannies under the eaves of homes and other buildings. Modern building methods, loft conversions and the use of fascia on buildings has drastically reduced the number of nesting sites available to them. However all is not lost, Sussex Ornithological Society (SOS), who are supporting our project, have helped residents of Lewes install nest boxes to compensate for the lack of eaves.
We will do the same here. Rebecca’s knowledge of where swifts have historically nested – around the Western Road and Cuckfield Road area – led us to identify Weald Close as a suitable location for 10 nest boxes to help returning birds breed successfully. We have signed up 10 households who would like to host a nest box and SOS have provided the funds to purchase the boxes.
We will install the boxes in March, before the birds arrive and will work with residents to provide information on how they can support these amazing birds. Swifts feed on “aerial plankton” – such as spiderlings, mosquitoes, aphids, flying ants, hoverflies and small beetles. The dramatic fall in the population of insects and invertebrates, attributed to widespread use of pesticides, reduces their ability to thrive and feed their chicks. We can help by planting native wildflowers and trees or making a pond, however small, in our gardens.
Look out for more details on our Swift project, including a launch day on social media.
If you’d like to get involved or are interested in hosting a nest box, please get in touch.