There are few sounds more evocative of summer than the screaming calls of swifts, as they fly together in groups circling and swooping over buildings. Every spring, swifts fly more than 6000 miles from Africa, returning to the same nest site to breed and staying with us for just three short months.
Sadly, swifts are in trouble: over the last 25 years, their numbers in the UK have halved. They rely on us for nest sites, under the eaves of older houses. But as we refurbish our houses, these holes are often blocked up.
The Stroud Swift Group, one of 90 such groups across the country, was formed in 2018 by a small group of enthusiasts who are passionate about swift conservation.
They have surveyed existing nest sites and encouraged householders to protect such sites and to put up nest boxes. They’re are also working with local parishes and with Stroud District Council.
For example, in Brimscombe and Thrupp, there are now boxes providing nests for 50 pairs of swifts, including Port Mill, Stroud Brewery and individual households. They have also advised the residents at Stone Manor, Bisley Road, where the most important swift colony in Stroud is in serious decline. Generous donations mean that 10 double swift boxes have now been put up on this listed building and swifts are already showing interest. Looking to the future, they hope to work with local planners and developers to install integrated swift bricks in new housing.
Swift Awareness Week runs from July 3rd- 11th. The group is planning a walk around Minchinhampton, from 7 pm on Sunday, July 11th.
If you would like to learn more about these amazing birds and look out for screaming parties and nest sites, then please book through Stroud Valleys Project on 01453 753358.
The group would love to hear about your observations: if you think you have a swift nest on your house, if you’ve observed swifts entering any nearby buildings or if you regularly see swifts flying overhead in ‘screaming parties’. Please email with sightings or if you would like more information about swifts: firstname.lastname@example.org