Introducing Swifts – Wicklow’s Faithful Summer Tourists
Swifts are an iconic summer visitor to Ireland, arriving in early May following a long migration from southern Africa. Slightly larger than a swallow they are a ‘site faithful’ bird, returning generation after generation to buildings in towns and villages throughout Ireland to nest and raise young.
Throughout most of its breeding range, the Swift nests in cavities in walls or under eaves of houses and old buildings. Because of this they are a well-known bird species in urban centres, particularly towns and villages. Based on initial survey work carried out in Wicklow in 2018 and data from existing records, it is known that Swifts nest in several Co. Wicklow towns, including Bray, Greystones, Rathdrum and Aughrim
Like many of our wild species however, Swifts are increasingly threatened through loss of nest sites and have suffered an alarming 40% population decline in the past decade. Problems arise when buildings are renovated or torn down removing the Swifts nest sites and sometimes huge nesting colonies can be lost overnight.
Counting Wicklow’s Swift Population
This Summer, Birdwatch Ireland with support from the Heritage Office of Wicklow County Council is undertaking a county swift survey to establish for the first time a baseline population of this bird for Wicklow.
The survey work will take place from mid-May to mid-August 2019. All confirmed nest sites will be photographed and collated and a detailed Swift map for the county generated.
Looking for Your Help
This project will greatly benefit from engagement with volunteers and local community groups, to take part in the survey work, develop a local network of Swift volunteers, and to encourage best practice and the development of local Swift projects in towns and villages across the county.
Two upcoming events are taking place to which everyone is welcome. Each workshop will include a talk from Birdwatch Ireland followed by a guided walk to look out for swifts in the locality. Details as follows, please come along and bring your neighbours!
Thursday 9th May @ 7.30pm: Venue Martello Hotel, Seafront Bray
Friday 10th May 7.00 pm: venue The Courthouse, Baltinglass
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