Swifts reduced in numbers in Cheshire

Residents across South Cheshire are taking action to try and halt the decline of red-listed species of swifts.

And one group has been helping to restore a super-colony in the west of Crewe.

Swifts are a very iconic species of towns and cities.

With their sickle-shaped wings and screaming calls, they were once a common site across many parts of Cheshire and nowhere more than Crewe.

Andy Stubbs, wilder communities officer for Cheshire Wildlife Trust, said: “Many might think of the railways when they think of Crewe, but some know it as the home of one of the most important swift colonies in the whole of the North West.

“With more than 450 nesting pairs in the estate around Bowen Cooke Avenue as recently as 1995, there would have been well over a thousand swifts once the young fledged at the end of the summer.

“A real wildlife spectacle, right on the doorstep of these terraced houses.

“The numbers of swifts here saw the site designated at a Local Wildlife Site (LWS), highlighting just how important this colony is.”

Swifts at dusk (c) Nick Upton (1) (1)
Swifts at dusk (c) Nick Upton

However, swifts have been in a national decline with a 62% drop in the past 25 years.

A survey in 2023 suggested that the swifts of Crewe had not faired any better than their national siblings.

In the LWS, nesting pairs dropped below 100 for the first time in living memory, with just 50 counted.

Elsewhere in Cheshire, swift colonies are now locally extinct.

One of the main drivers of this decline is loss of nest spaces.

Now Crewe Clean Team have offered free swift boxes to residents living on the estate at the middle of the LWS thanks to funding from Crewe Town Council.

Dave, from Crewe Clean Team, said: “A lack of suitable nesting sites is not the only problem facing swifts, but it is one that can be addressed.

“We will install over 60 boxes in 2024 and hope – through sponsorship – to extend the project into future years.”

Alongside this, Haslington Parish Council have funded £1,400 worth of swift boxes at the other side of town.

The number of breeding swifts in the parish fell from 90 pairs in 1995 to six in 2023.

Other towns in the county have seen swifts holding on with just single figures of nests.

Cheshire Wildlife Trust are encouraging gardeners to install nest boxes and create habitats that boost insect numbers to help swallows, swifts, and martins as part of a new campaign.

Find out how you can help by visiting www.wildlifetrusts.org/news/help-endangered-high-flying-birds

One Comment

  1. Seen only 2 this year over Nantwich.

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