Call for Buxton residents to help endangered swifts

Buxton Civic Association and a well-known local naturalist have come together to help the dwindling swift population in the town.

Tuesday, 21st June 2022, 4:04 pm

In the last 25 years the number of swifts in the UK has dropped by 55 per cent so in a bid to tackle this crisis residents in Buxton and the High Peak are being asked to help monitor the birds and provide a safe space for them to nest.

Simon Fussell, from Buxton Civic Association (BCA), said: “We urgently need to raise awareness of the plight of the swifts here in the UK.”

Swifts are migratory birds who travel from the UK to south east Africa for the winter.

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One of the Swift next boxes that have been put up in the Lightwood Road area

They spend two years in flight and only when back in England do the birds land to nest. However, one of the key problems facing swifts is the lack of nests available once they return home.

Simon said: “Swifts mate for life and return year after year to the same nesting spots which may be cracks in roofs and gaps in bricks.

"But home refurbishments and new build homes are seeing these cracks and tiny gaps being blocked off and the birds have nowhere to nest."

Another cause of the swift decline is the loss of insects which Buxton naturalist Mark Cocker says is down to the use of pesticides in farming.

Simon Fussell of the Civic Association and Swift expert Mark Cocker in the area around Lightwood Road where Swift next boxes have been put up

He explained: “In the last 100 years there has been an explosion in farming and the need for cheap food.

"I’m not blaming the farmers for using pesticides – these are generation old habits which need to be broken but it is very worrying if a bird like the swift which is at the top of the food chain is struggling to find food we don’t know what knock on effect this will have for the other food chains and eco-system in general.”

Swifts have been red listed by the RSPB which means they are the birds most in need of help to stop any further population losses.

To try and combat this the civic association is asking people to let them know every time they see a swift in the High Peak so its location can be logged on a swiftmapper.

People are also being encouraged to put up swift boxes to provide more nesting spots for when they return each summer.