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Swift conservation plan gets under way for 2020

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Communities across the Garden County are encouraged to keep an eye on the skies for swifts

Communities across the Garden County are encouraged to keep an eye on the skies for swifts

Dick Coombes

Communities across the Garden County are encouraged to keep an eye on the skies for swifts

Communities across the Garden County are being encouraged to keep an eye on the skies for swifts.

Swifts are a small migratory bird that visit Ireland and County Wicklow each year to nest. They travel from southern Africa where they have spent nine months of the year.

However, their future is seriously threatened in Ireland due to a loss of nesting sites and suitable feeding habitats. From May to August each year, people will hear swifts before they see them; their distinctive piercing 'screaming' call is uttered on the wing as they fly over roof tops at high speed.

Wicklow County Council is continuing its swift project, which launched last year as part of the County Biodiversity Action Plan.

In 2019, the local authority worked with Birdwatch Ireland on a swift survey. Key locations, towns and villages where swifts occur in the county were identified and recorded.

Now, communities and residents are invited to report sightings of the birds where they occur within their local 5km area. The support and active engagement of local communities is important to build awareness of this bird species and to ensure the protection of swift breeding colonies and nest sites.

'Across Wicklow, Tidy Towns groups, community groups and interested individuals are playing a vital role in swift conservation by undertaking projects to directly help conserve swifts in their localities', said Deirdre Burns, Wicklow Heritage Officer.

Swift nestbox projects are also under way in towns such as Arklow, Bray, Greystones, Rathdrum and Wicklow. The Council is also planning to install nesting boxes in public buildings. Swift nestbox projects are also set to begin in Baltinglass, Blessington, Dunlavin and Grangecon.

Anyone who would like to learn more about the County Wicklow Swift Project and how to get involved, can contact the Wicklow Co-Ordinator, Oran O'Sullivan by email to oran@irishgardenbirds.ie or by calling 087 2339280.

For a free copy of 'Saving Swifts', a Birdwatch Ireland/Local Authority Heritage Officer publication email dburns@wicklowcoco.ie.

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