Electricity line workers install nest boxes for swifts and kestrels

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  Posted by: electime      31st May 2023

Electricity linespeople teamed up with villagers at Warnham, in West Sussex, to help create new nest sites for endangered swifts and kestrels.

Ahead of World Swift Day on June 7, overhead line experts from UK Power Networks helped Wild About Warnham, install specialist nest boxes in the eaves of homes across the village.

In 2021, swifts joined the Red List of 70 endangered species in the UK Birds of Conservation Concern (BoCC) report. Kestrels are on the Amber List and under threat.

Paul Maynard, a linesperson at UK Power Networks, supported the project with colleagues Ben Parkes and Ritchie Mulhall through UK Power Networks’ Donate a Day scheme, which gives staff two paid days each year to volunteer in their local communities.

Paul, a wildlife enthusiast, explained: “Working at height is part of my job as a linesperson so I wanted to help. I’m passionate about wildlife and enjoy helping my local community. We’ve got the equipment and skills they needed to complete this project.

“Swifts and kestrels are struggling due to climate change, pesticides and a decline in insects as more of us keep our gardens tidy and loss of wild fields and hedgerows. Everything is against them, so we are just trying to do our bit for nature conservation.

“The company gives us two days per year for local community work, which is wonderful. I love helping these groups and wish I could do more. You cannot beat doing something good and giving something back to your local community.”

Wild About Warnham member, Alison Ingram, a wildlife artist and swift carer, welcomed the project, which received generous funding from Wilder Horsham District to purchase swift nest boxes through a Nature Recovery Award grant. Last year alone, she successfully rehabilitated and released 16 swifts, witnessing the threats they face first-hand.

Alison said: “The swift boxes were difficult to install in the apex of the buildings and we needed someone with a cherry-picker. They were brilliant chaps and it was a fun two days.

“We have a small population of swifts in Warnham and they prefer to nest in small gaps in roof soffits. As people carry out home renovations, swifts lose their natural nesting sites. Often people aren’t aware they’ve got swifts nesting in their eaves as they are only here for about three months of the year and nests can be inadvertently destroyed.

“Swifts are long-living birds and completely loyal to their nest sites so once they lose their nest they often won’t breed again. Their numbers are in steep decline due to a lack of nest sites and loss of insects. It is a worry, but it is positive there are so many people interested in helping them and we hope the decline can be stopped.”

Alison hopes to inspire others to help reverse dwindling UK swift populations by sharing her latest artwork with readers (see picture), depicting swifts over St Margaret’s Church, in Warnham. While the artwork has already been sold and will be remaining in the village, limited edition prints are available to purchase. For details contact www.alisoningram.co.uk

For further information about helping swifts, visit Swift Conservation.