1 December 2020
From left to right: Audrey Jarvis, Lewes Swifts monitor; Adrian Ross, Green District Councillor; Imogen Makepeace, Green Town Councillor; Kevin Murphy, Lewes Swifts monitor outside houses in Western Road with newly installed swift boxes.
Swifts visit Lewes for only about 12 weeks a year. They arrive late April and depart early August. But these are the most import weeks of the lives of this threatened species. in 2010, an RSPB study estimated that 10% of the East Sussex remaining population nest in Lewes, so action in Lewes is urgently needed.
Pioneering guidance on how to identify potential nest sites was presented to Lewes Town Council Planning Applications Committee by Mike Ramsey, Chair of Lewes Swift Society this week. The guidance has been unanimously adopted and will become the first step in securing crucial nest sites on new development through the planning process.
Imogen Makepeace, Green Town Councillor and Lewes Swifts Supporter said “For hundreds of years these small birds, often mistaken for swallows or marten, but more closely related to hummingbirds, have made their nests in the eaves and crevices of old Lewes town houses. I’m really grateful to Lewes Town Council Planning Applications Committee for taking this pioneering step towards increasing biodiversity in our town.”
Swifts numbers are in steep decline, and the bird is amber listed for conservation, partly because building standards and design no longer accommodate sheltered nooks and crannies for nest sites. This bird that lives, sleeps, eats and mates on the wing has only one reason for landing in its life-when it lays eggs and raises chicks.
Lewes Swift Supporters have been monitoring the annual return of what they call “our birds”, as each year swifts return to their colony, In the summer of 2020 they counted 64 sites spread across the centre of the town and into the north in Malling. Dedicated volunteers have also installed swift boxes on to properties in Western Road, Market Street, and Police HQ in Malling.
If you would like to find out about installing swift bricks or boxes on your property, or want to join swift supporters counting nest sites, or simply to know more contact firstname.lastname@example.org and follow us on twitter @LewesSwifts