Help on hand for Swifts in New Mills

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Birds as old as the dinosaurs will soon be returning to screech overhead with their unique summer sound-track. Volunteers are getting together in New Mills on Saturday to discover more about the visiting swifts and finding out how to give them a good home. With swift visitor numbers dropping every year, people are working together to help them survive.

Deborah Pitman, a member of the 'Nature New Mills' Group, said : "Swifts arrive at the end of May and stay roughly twelve short weeks. They're amazing creatures, they mate for life and return to the same nesting spot year after year. We want to make sure there are nest spaces available for the young birds that will be arriving for the first time to raise their chicks. It's the first time the birds will be landing after taking flight two or three years before. Putting a box on your house, ready for them, is the best place to start."

There'll be different swift boxes to look at, some home-made, some manufactured. Deborah said "The key thing is to go for the best quality you can as the oldest recorded swift is 21 years old. We'll be talking about how high up they need to be and which way the box needs to face. We don't want the heat to hamper them. Swifts love nesting near other swifts, so the fact that we've a returning population gives us a real head start".

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Hope Valley nest box manufacturers 'Peak Boxes' even make swift boxes with space for bats to nest behind to really boost biodiversity with some strategic planning.

Deb Pitman with some swift boxes ready to be installed.Deb Pitman with some swift boxes ready to be installed.
Deb Pitman with some swift boxes ready to be installed.

Deborah said: "Swifts adapted from nesting in trees and cliff banks to finding spaces in roof structures as their habitat changed. Now with modern roofing techniques and no little cracks or crevices for them to find we have to give them other options. This is where boxes come in and there's still time to be ready. The swifts that are looking for their first homes tend to arrive a bit later than the established breeding pairs. They leave no mess, in fact most homeowners don't know they're there".

'Let's Talk Swifts' is happening at The Rock Mill Centre, Rock Mill Lane, SK22 3BN on Saturday April 13th, between 2pm and 4pm. Follow 'Nature New Mills' on Facebook for more swift events over the summer.

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