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Wicklow Swift project proving to be a success

Wicklow is playing its part in a national campaign to assist and encourage the swift population which faces decline.

High Summer marks the peak of swift season in Ireland and the Heritage Office of Wicklow County Council is pleased to give an update on the Wicklow Swift Project which is actively seeking to improve the long-term prospects for this iconic but vulnerable summer visitor.

Deirdre Burns, Wicklow County Council Heritage Officer, said: “The future of swifts in Ireland is seriously threatened by loss of nesting sites and feeding habitats, climate change and associated unpredictable weather patterns.  Wicklow County Council is one of a number of counties working to halt the decline in this species through raising awareness, improving habitat, providing new nesting sites (boxes) and recording sightings.”

An essential part of the Wicklow Swift Project, she said, involved working in partnership with interested individuals, Tidy Towns and resident groups, schools, clubs and businesses in County Wicklow.

This year’s nesting season benefitted from good warm and dry conditions throughout June.  Reports from Baltinglass, where new nesting boxes have been installed, are very encouraging.  New boxes have also been installed recently in Wicklow town, Bray, Delgany, Arklow, Blessington and Dunlavin.

The swift lays up to three eggs and currently, last year’s fledglings are busy checking out potential nest sites for next summer. The Wicklow Swift Project has been able to supply nesting boxes at appropriate locations which is as a key action to sustain the population which is otherwise excluded from nearly all new and refurbished developments.

In roughly four weeks’ time our swift visitors will depart for Africa on a journey that will see these remarkable birds cross the African continent, in search of food through our winter months.   The highly specialised aerial feeding habits of the swift means that their tiny insect prey is not always available in poor weather conditions.  This in turn affects breeding performance. 

Oran O Sullivan, Project Officer, stated: “Following on from early season work with swifts in the north and east of the county we are now seeking to contact interested parties in the south and west. The support and active engagement of local communities is critical to building greater awareness of this unique bird species and in undertaking conservation action, locally where it is needed. Most villages in County Wicklow are suitable for Swift nest box schemes.”

Anyone looking for advice on how to get involved in next seasons project should contact Oran by e mail: oran@irishgardenbirds.ie .

To request a copy of ‘Saving Swifts Brochure’ e mail wicklowheritage@wicklowcoco.ie or to find out more about swifts and other aspects of Wicklow’s heritage,  visit our community heritage website www.heritage.wicklowheritage.org .

The Wicklow Swift project 2021 is made possible by funding from The Heritage Council and Wicklow County Council and is an action of the County Wicklow Heritage and Biodiversity Plans.

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