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Established Nests of Merrow’s Swifts Saved by Guildford Conservation Group

Published on: 17 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 19 Jun, 2020

Swift rescuers of the Guildford Environment Forum

A dispute over scaffolding blocking swifts migrating to their customary nests in a shared property in Merrow has been resolved to allow them clear entry.

Sarah Davis and John Bannister, of Guildford Environmental Forum (GEF), led a team of volunteers liaising with police on behalf of a concerned resident to remove the scaffolding from the eaves of the property preventing swifts from reaching their nests.

A swift identifiable by its crescent wingspan

The swifts, which migrate from Africa, choose high positions on old buildings with a clear entry to their nests because they fly in at such a high speed.  Although masters of flight, this speed makes negotiating scaffolding poles and boards impossible for them.

Their nests, which are cemented together with saliva, are renovated and reused year after year.

Swifts are protected by law during the nesting season, and the police asked Mark Thomas, head of the RSPB’s Wildlife Crime Investigations Unit to help.

John Bannister

He contacted birdwatchers Ms Davis and Mr Bannister who organised the GEF swift volunteers to observe the property, and led mediation with police, the concerned resident, the part-owners of the property and the scaffolding contractors, to explain the situation and the importance of protecting the swifts.

The scaffolding was removed by June 8 and the swifts are returning to their nests. Lower-level scaffolding was retained, allowing some work on the house to continue through the summer, and GEF members will observe the site to monitor the swifts’ health.

They will assess when the birds have departed for their migration back to Africa at the end of August, to enable replacement of scaffolding.

GEF chair Adrian Thompson thanked Ms Davis and Mr Bannister for their efforts in what he called “a sensitive and delicate situation”. Merrow Cllr Deborah Seabrook (R4GV) also praised Ms Davis’s dedication in working to protect the swift nests at this critical time for the vulnerable birds.

See also: High Rise Accommodation Now Available in Shalford, If You Are Swift

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