WELL, SWIFTS HAVE JUST ARRIVED IN GWENT! SCREAMING PARTY OBSERVERS WANTED!

Do you remember the recent Dipper invitation to ask you to record swift nest locations?

WELL, SWIFTS HAVE JUST ARRIVED IN GWENT!
(see ‘Sightings’ website, 5th May)

They won’t be nesting until late May /throughout June, so don’t start recording yet, BUT PLEASE START PREPARING NOW:
1) Decide whether to work as a small group or on your own.
2) TELL MIKE OR TREVOR IF YOU’RE GOING TO BE INVOLVED, AND, IMPORTANTLY, WHERE (POSTCODE, GRID REF. OR ADDRESS) SO WE CAN ATTEMPT GAP-FILLING IF POSSIBLE.
3) Keep your eyes open if you see them prospecting for potential nesting sites. Evening walks are probably best. All we’ll need is Date, time, Location – address or grid ref if poss., and number of nests or birds in that vicinity.
4) Send your data to either

Mike Pointon, wryneck100@btinternet.com or
Trevor Russell tjruss2010@gmail.com

Here’s that original Dipper article again:

SCREAMING PARTY OBSERVERS WANTED!

Question 1: What bird commonly seen in the UK in the summer is capable of flying 8 times (EIGHT TIMES!) to the moon and back (4 million miles) during its lifetime?
Good guess if you said Arctic Tern, but it’s a mere pedestrian at 1.5 million miles! In this case we’re talking about the common Swift (apus apus)
Swifts usually scream into Gwent from sub-Saharan Africa during April and are gone by the end of August, following their insect food. In those four months they have to: find a mate, mate, build a nest and rear their young.
And all that without putting a foot on the ground!
Don’t try it at home!
Whilst we know they are monogamous and mate for life using the same nest site year after year (they rendezvous at the nest, which is a great time-saver, if it’s not been destroyed) their nest sites can be difficult to find.

Despite their obvious presence Swifts are a Red-Listed endangered species.

Question 2: Where do they go in Gwent?
This is where you come in. We’re looking for volunteers who would be prepared to either lead a small group of helpers on a short walk around their local area – or on your own – looking for and recording any sightings/screamers and locations of nest sites.

Clearly the leader should be able to distinguish Swifts from Swallows, House Martins, Sand Martins etc, but maybe you are also familiar with previous Swift nest sites. Swifts are usually seen flying around buildings, so are more likely to be spotted in towns & villages and not woodland. They often nest in small cup-shaped nests under the eaves of houses, especially older buildings, e.g. Usk Jail and Monmouth’s Old Gaol House!

It is suggested that surveys should be conducted at weekly intervals if possible – though just one visit is better than none – during the main nesting period i.e. throughout June, and between the hours of, say, 8pm – 10pm (but you may wish to pick a different period) to catch the main roosting time. Be sure to pick pleasant evenings too, when the Swifts will help to save you from the insects!

Records* will be emailed to Swifts@gwentbirds.org.uk to be compiled on a Gwent spreadsheet and forwarded to the BTO at the end of the season. They in turn will compile a national picture of sightings and nest sites for publication in due course

*Records should include:

• Date
• Time
• Location (GPS or description, with house number if poss.)
• Activity (screaming party, or visiting an occupied nest site)
• Number seen
• Observer name and contact details
• Notes (if any)

Your records will receive an automated response but we could be in touch again if necessary.

If you’d like to get involved with monitoring this severely endangered species, please contact

Mike Pointon, wryneck100@btinternet.com or
Trevor Russell tjruss2010@gmail.com