21 March 2024

We’re getting ready for the arrival of the swifts




Iveta Senasiova

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Three new swift boxes have been installed on our residential properties in readiness for the birds’ return to Britain in the spring.

Two boxes have been put up on properties on Mortimer Road which are undergoing external redecoration. Another has been fitted to a property on Southgate Road.

Our Maintenance Manager, Duncan Urquhart oversaw the operation to put up the boxes.

He said: “Whenever we carry out a refurbishment of a property on the Estate we’re always very keen to install a swift box, if it is appropriate. The boxes need to be at least five metres above the ground, so we mostly put them on three-storey buildings, up under the eaves, if possible.”

The swift boxes are made of woodstone - a blend of concrete and wood fibres – that won’t rot.

“Tenants are delighted to have the boxes,” Duncan said. “Swifts are in decline so everyone is very happy to do all they can to help them.”

Michael Priaulx from our local Swift Group – De Beauvoir Swifts - reports that there are now 21 swift boxes and 12 swift bricks in north London known to be occupied during the summer breeding season by the migratory birds.

Bird lovers have helped to install more than 400 swift boxes across seven London boroughs in recent years, providing more places for swifts to breed.

Swifts will start to return to De Beauvoir Town and hopefully begin to take up residence in our swift boxes from the beginning of May. Our experienced team will be monitoring the boxes – without disturbing any new residents – to see if they are being used.

Michael Priaulx is urging bird lovers to encourage local authorities to insist swift boxes or bricks are installed in new buildings. He said local councils were getting better at including the need for swift boxes and swift bricks as part of a building project.

“Hackney and Islington have been leading the way, asking for swift bricks and boxes in new developments for several years,” he reports in the latest edition of the Swifts Group Newsletter.

Michael, who has praised The Benyon Estate for installing swift boxes, is appealing to residents across the borough and beyond to report any boxes or bricks occupied by swifts, or new nest sites in roofs.

“Please let us know,” he writes. “If your neighbours have nest sites, we can drop a flyer through their door to let them know about the nest site and how to contact their local group.”

To find out more about swifts in the area, follow @debeauvoirswifts on Instagram, @hackneyswifts on Twitter, or visit the group’s website here.

In photos: Russ Warman (Warman Builders), Duncan Urquhart
Photos copyright © The Benyon Estate