Perhaps the most iconic and intriguing of our urban bird species, Swifts are a small migratory bird that visit Ireland each year to nest. They travel from southern Africa where they have spent nine months of the year. Their future is seriously threatened in Ireland due to loss of nesting sites and suitable feeding habitats. From May to August each year, you will usually hear Swifts before you see them, their distinctive piercing ‘screaming’ call is uttered on the wing as they fly superbly over roof tops at high speed.
However, the good news is that there is a lot that can be done to halt the decline in Wicklow’s Swift population, knowing how many Swifts there are and where they nest in our towns and villages is the first step. The support and active engagement of local communities is critical to building greater awareness of this unique bird species and in undertaking conservation action where it is needed.
This summer, BirdWatch Ireland, with the support of the Wicklow Branch of BirdWatch Ireland will conduct a County Swift Survey in Wicklow. Although finding, recording and mapping Swift nesting sites is core to the Wicklow Swift Survey, BirdWatch Ireland will also make focused efforts to get local communities and residents involved in recording but more so in the protection of Swift breeding colonies and nest sites.
Across Ireland, Tidy Towns groups, Community Groups and interested individuals are playing a vital role in Swift Conservation by undertaking projects to directly help conserve Swifts in their localities. In Wicklow, Swift projects are being undertaken in towns such as Bray and Greystones. Similar to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, there is a large body of support for Swift conservation efforts and BirdWatch Ireland are hoping this will continue in Wicklow during and after the 2019 County Swift Survey.
If you would like to learn more about the County Wicklow Swift Survey and how you can get involved, you can attend one of two County Swift Survey Workshops;
- Bray Swift Evening, The Martello Hotel, 7:30pm on Thursday, May 9th.
- Baltinglass Swift Evening, Baltinglass Courthouse (Library), 7:00pm on Friday, May 10th
On the evenings, members of the BirdWatch Ireland Conservation Team will be on hand to discuss Swift ecology, conservation and local involvement before going outdoors to view Swifts nearby. The workshops are free and all are welcome to attend.
The ‘County Wicklow Swift Survey 2019’ is an initiative of Wicklow Heritage Officer and the County Council and is part funded by the National Parks and Wildlife Service’s National Biodiversity Action Plan Fund.
If you would like more information please email or call Ricky Whelan (BirdWatch Ireland Project Officer) at [email protected] or on 085 783 2545.