Living with wildlife

by David Feather

If you read my earlier piece about John Stimpson, who made nesting boxes for swifts, you might be interested in helping these little birds. Advice is available through and there is a Bristol and Avon representative.

Pressure is now being put on housebuilders to provide hollow bricks for the swifts to nest in. Many hundreds of Swift nest places have been installed in the West Country, mostly in new-build housing, apartments, hotels and schools, by working closely with the Duchy of Cornwall and Exeter City Council. House holders have set up Swift colonies in the walls of their own home or with special entrances fitted into a roof .

[1] Swift at entrance to nest brick and [2] swift nestlings in a nest brick under the eaves of a house.

John Stimpson believes local action groups are very effective and has been working with a number of them. “The number of swift groups that have started up in the last five to eight years is quite staggering. And they seem to go from strength to strength,” he says.

In connection with planning application 18/10035/OUT to build house in the fields south of Church Lane, Salisbury and Wilton Swifts group has commented:-

“ Salisbury & Wilton Swift Group has reviewed the above outline planning application, as we believe all new developments should provide habitat opportunities for those species such as swifts who prefer, or can adapt to, the built environment. […] we recommend the Council follows the 1:1 nest brick per dwelling guidance and the recommendations and conditions [for] the installation of 55 integral swift nest bricks in this development preferably in clusters of 2-3 in the north, east and west gable ends or close under the eaves away from windows and doors and with clear flight access. Provision of integral swift bricks in this application would contribute towards demonstrating compliance with government policies and guidance as the new dwellings can themselves be a biodiversity enhancer by providing a habitat that previously didn’t exist.”

Swifts come to our nature reserve to hunt flying insects and the provision of nest boxes or integral nesting bricks in surrounding buildings would be a good low cost practical measure to help to swell their numbers.

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