Campaign group swift action to save beloved birds

A common swift. Picture: Shutterstock
A common swift. Picture: Shutterstock
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THEY’RE a much-loved annual visitor, but swift numbers are in decline.

But now bird lovers can find out all about them and their habitats at an event in Portsmouth.

Run by campaigning group Hampshire Swifts, people can talk to others about their experiences of helping the bird and different ways residents can discover breeding spots.

Renowned swift expert Edward Mayer will be at Milton Village Hall for Portsmouth Swifts’ Day on June 24 for the 1.30pm-5.30pm event.

He will give advice on spotting the birds, whose numbers have halved in the past 20 years.

Andy Broadhurst, of Hampshire Swifts, said: ‘Swifts are the iconic bird of summer, bringing pleasure to local inhabitants as they form low-level screaming parties flying down the high street.

‘Yet our streets will soon be silent if we don’t start to take this drastic decline seriously.’

Southsea resident Lianne de Mello said: ‘Swifts swooping over our gardens and streets are a hallmark of summer in Southsea.

‘These visitors travel all the way from Africa to breed, but lack of nesting places mean their numbers are in decline.’

Swifts arrive in this area from Africa every summer and breed in the roofs of the city’s buildings.

But due to demolition or renovation of these structures, they are declining in numbers.

Swifts have long wings and a forked tail and spend most of their time in the air at roof height.

Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust says more data and information is needed if these birds are to continue flocking to our shores.

This information can then be used to influence future developments.

Residents are urged to spot swifts flying over their gardens, or set up nesting boxes to enable the creatures to feed.

You can report any of your swift sightings to the Hampshire Swifts Survey at hampshireswifts.co.uk/survey