Bird lover's eagle eye

AN AVID bird watcher who has kept a close eye on swifts for 40 years has saved them from being blocked off from their nests.

Monday, 29th July 2019, 11:03 am
Updated Tuesday, 30th July 2019, 5:30 pm
Philip Osgood's neighbouring house where the swifts live. Picture: Habibur Rahman

Philip Osgood was surprised to see the birds acting strangely as they flew past his house in Beryton Road, Gosport.

He realised the birds were having difficulty getting to nests due to work being carried out by Gosport Borough Council, as new boarding on some houses was blocking entry points.

The 64-year-old said: ‘You go out there in the nice summer and you know summer has arrived because the swifts are here.

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Philip Osgood's neighbouring house where the swifts live. Picture: Habibur Rahman

‘I was sat out in the garden and I wondered why the swifts were flying so low, about head height, swooping between the houses.’

Mr Osgood is concerned the birds may have been affected by the experience, and said more needs to be done to encourage them back.

He said: ‘Next year because they have been blocked in they may not return unless we do something.

‘Maybe [the council] can put up breeding boxes, it’s a small case of a bird box and they continue to be happy.’

Philip Osgood outside his home in Gosport, where he has watched the migrating swifts outside his neighbour's house for 40 years. Picture: Habibur Rahman

The RSPB issues guidance about this species, saying if any work is likely to cause immediate threat in breeding season from May to August, residents should tell authorities that swifts are legally protected.

Luckily, the council stepped in and took quick action once Mr Osgood raised the alarm about the hungry chicks.

A Gosport Borough Council spokesman said: ‘We're very conscious of the need to protect swifts and swallows, and other wildlife.

‘Our contractors were installing boards to enclose exposed eaves on a number of homes in the road, to improve weather resistance.

‘They weren't aware that swifts were nesting in some of the properties, and when this became clear, they stopped the work as soon as possible. They also removed boarding that had already been fitted.’

He added: ‘We've been investigating the use of nest boxes for swifts and swallows around the borough.

‘We're grateful to residents with local knowledge of these birds and are happy to work with them on protecting them.’