As spring approaches, we await the familiar sounds and sights of swifts returning from their winter in Africa.
The birds will begin to arrive in the UK from the last week of April, staying just long enough to breed, before they return to south of the Sahara from late July onwards for the winter.
In Hackney and Islington, there are hundreds of swift boxes to help support these endangered birds – which have been given a ‘red’ UK conservation status by the RSPB, meaning they are of the highest conservation priority.
Mike Priaulx of Hackney and Islington Swifts is well known locally for his work protecting the birds and educating local people on how they can do their bit too.
He will be giving a talk at the next De Beauvoir Gardeners meeting on Tuesday 1st February on the topic of gardening to help birds.
His session will cover the do’s and don’ts for gardening, feeding and nesting, including what to grow and when to trim to support birdlife. He’ll also share what species you might expect to see in your garden over the coming months.
Mike volunteers for Islington Swifts, a local group whose aim is to help the resident swift population through nest boxes, whilst raising awareness of the species and providing advice.
He has worked with the Benyon Estate for a long time advising us on measures that can be taken to help swifts when restoring and building properties in the area, such as including nesting boxes and bricks.
Swifts can be difficult to support as they eat insects high in the sky and only land to nest, so you are unlikely to entice them to your bird table. But, by providing space for them to nest, you can do your bit to reduce their rapid decline in numbers.
Join the session to learn what you can do to support our feathered friends. Visit the De Beauvoir Gardeners website for all the details.
Photo copyright: The Benyon Estate