Conservation of the swift requires swift work

A common swift - a species suffering serious declines. Picture: DOUG MACKENZIE DODDS

A common swift - a species suffering serious declines. Picture: DOUG MACKENZIE DODDS - Credit: Archant

Swift action is needed if one of Britain's most popular bird species is to continue to nest in our towns and cities.

The plight of the common swift - it's full name disguising its fast-declining UK population - is one of the most pressing of the many conservation issues faced by British wildlife.

Just how pressing was demonstrated at Suffolk Wildlife Trust's Conservation Day by one of the species' most dedicated conservationists, Edward Jackson.

The driving force behind the Save Our Suffolk Swifts initiative in which the trust and the 400-member Suffolk Ornithologists' Group have combined to promote the species' conservation in the county, Mr Jackson presented statistics that showed why many naturalists are so alarmed.

He said research by the Thetford-based British Trust for Ornithology showed a 46 per cent decline in swift numbers across the UK between 1994 and 2015. 'That is bad enough but the rate of decline is increasing,' he said.


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'We are talking about 20pc every year, which in conservation terms is very steep.

'It is an Amber listed species but a recent study based on International Union for Conservation of Nature Red Data criteria classed the swift as endangered.'

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The 'insidious' loss of the species' 'nook and cranny' nest sites as old buildings were demolished or repaired was a major issue as was the reduced biomass of aerial insects on which swifts fed.

'If we were to put swift nestboxes up on 10pc of the new houses built in Suffolk we would turn the corner and it would help to mitigate the losses caused by other reasons,' said Mr Jackson.

'But,' he asked, 'why stop at 10pc? Why not 100pc?'

Save Our Suffolk Swifts hoped to emulate the success of the Suffolk Community Barn Owl Project, which had brought the barn owl 'back from the brink,' he said.

More information on Save Our Suffolk Swifts can be seen at www.suffolkwildlifetrust.org and www.sogonline.org.uk

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