Efforts are underway in Wicklow to halt the decline of the county’s swift population.
May is traditionally the month to observe and enjoy biodiversity. It is also the time to welcome back one of our most iconic and intriguing urban bird species, the swift.
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 however 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.
The good news is that efforts are underway in County Wicklow to protect this key aspect of our biodiversity and to halt the decline in the county’s swift population.
In 2019 Wicklow County Council, as an action of the County Biodiversity Action Plan, teamed up with Birdwatch Ireland on a swift survey. Key locations, towns and villages where swifts occur in the county were identified and recorded.
This summer the project continues and communities and residents are invited to report sightings of the birds where they occur within their local 5km area. The support and active engagement of local communities is critical to building greater awareness of this unique bird species and in ensuring the protection of swift breeding colonies and nest sites.
“Across Wicklow, 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”, states Deirdre Burns, Wicklow Heritage Officer.
Swift nestbox projects are being undertaken in towns such as Arklow, Bray, Greystones, Rathdrum and Wicklow and the Council is focussing on installing boxes in public buildings.
In west Wicklow, communities have also embraced the challenge with swift nestbox projects set to begin in Baltinglass, Blessington, Dunlavin and Grangecon.
There are, of course, other villages in Wicklow that are suitable for swift nestbox schemes and people can contact the Council for advice.
Anyone who would like to learn more about the County Wicklow Swift Project and how to get involved, can contact the Wicklow Co-Ordinator, Oran O’Sullivan, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mobile phone 087 2339280.
For a free copy of ‘Saving Swifts’ a Birdwatch Ireland/Local Authority Heritage Officer publication email email@example.com.
The Wicklow Swift Project is supported by Wicklow County Council, The Heritage Council and National Parks and Wildlife Service through the National Biodiversity Action Plan Fund.