Swift Conservation in Oxfordshire

Dr Jocelyne Hughes is working with support from the Cherwell District Council Swift Project to encourage swift populations to visit and nest at the Department's facilities in Wellington Square.

With its distinctive short forked tail and characteristic sickle-shaped wings, the aerial acrobatics of the Swift (Apus apus) are a marvel to behold while it visits the UK during the summer months to nest before heading back south to Africa for the winter.

According to the British Trust for Ornithology however, Swift numbers have dropped sharply over the past 15 years. It is thought that this is due in part to a lack of suitable nesting sites as their usual choice of older buildings with accessible spaces through gaps under the roof are renovated or blocked up.

Jocelyne has secured three specially designed nesting boxes which have now been installed below the eaves of No. 11 Wellington Square (pictured) which houses the Continuing Professional Development offices for the Department, next door to our Victorian townhouse accommodation.

Usually, swifts prospect for suitable sites in the summer to then return the following year for nesting. An important part of the project is to keep track of and report any visits by prospecting swifts to the area, and hopefully to spot them investigating the nesting boxes themselves, or nesting under the eaves of other buildings.

Whether you are staying at our accommodation or are enjoying the sunshine in Wellington Square do take a moment to keep an eye out for any swifts.

What to look for:

  • Birds going in and out of holes under the eaves of buildings around Wellington Square
  • Swifts calling and screaming on the wing, often in groups
  • Birds visiting the 3 swift nesting boxes at No 11


To report any sightings please email Jocelyne Hughes on jocelyne.hughes@conted.ox.ac.uk

To download a pdf poster on the swift boxes please click on the image above, or click here.

Jocelyne Hughes is Course Director for the Department for Continuing Education's Postgraduate Certificate in Ecological Survey Techniques www.conted.ox.ac.uk/courses/professional/staticdetails.php?course=243.

Published 29 April 2013