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Farming in Protected Landscapes Case Study:

Construction of a swift nesting tower at Eastbridge

In 2023/24 Waveney Bird Club was awarded £17,305 towards the erection of a swift tower at Eels Foot Inn at Eastbridge. The tower provides 40 nesting areas for pairs of the birds and will promote the plight of swifts on the Suffolk coast.

Why do we need to provide homes for swifts?

The main target of this project is to provide essential swift nesting opportunities and to promote an awareness of biodiversity in the community and the importance of the swift as an indicator of the health of the environment.

Whilst the cause of the declines is still being investigated, loss of nesting sites for swifts represents one potential cause for the decline in the UK breeding population.

A small population of swifts already nest in the traditional pantile roofs of dwellings in Eastbridge and the tower will provide further and more permanent nesting opportunities to complement these existing sites.

Swift numbers have declined by 60% since 1995 and it now appears on the red-list of Birds of Conservation Concern. Modern construction techniques and refurbishment of traditional nest sites, such as old farm buildings, have considerably reduced the availability of suitable breeding sites.

What else is being done in the area?

Waveney Bird Club has championed a swift recovery plan since 2008. It has constructed swift boxes and distributed these to local villages to fix onto dwellings and runs an annual swift walk through the towns of Bungay and Beccles each July under the title of “Swift Walk Swift Pint” and the Club plans to run similar events in local villages in the future.

These events have raised public awareness to the plight of our swifts; have been very well attended and such walks have been replicated in towns and cities throughout the UK. There has also been interest nationally in the work, with articles in the press, internet sites and the radio.

How successful is this project?

The tower is in place for January 2024, ready for the spring nesting season. It may take some time before the swifts begin to use the tower, though, this can take up to 5 years. They will be encouraged with electronic bird calling sounds which have been successful in other swift tower projects.

The tower will be kept well maintained so that the residents wont be disturbed by replacing it for many years. It's an impressive structure – we hope to report on swifts in residence soon.