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Swifts summer homes in Cairngorms National Park

6th July 2007

RESIDENTS and businesses in the Cairngorms National Park are being urged to help make the area the summer home of swifts by installing nests in their buildings.

The birds have made their annual return to the Park from their winter holiday in southern Africa and while they are a welcome addition the number returning to the UK over the years has declined. One of the causes is a reduction in nest sites – with the old buildings that are preferred as nesting places being rebuilt or renovated.

However it is hoped people in the Cairngorms National Park will support a project that aims to enhance the bird numbers and places where they can nest.

The Cairngorms Swifts Nest Survey is run by the Cairngorms Local Biodiversity Action Plan (LBAP) and encourages residents and visitors to play their part in helping to protect the species by recording sightings of them, their nests and enhance their habitats around the Park.

The project is now in its third year and over 150 recordings have been reported from around the Park of nest sites or of the dramatic aerial flyers.

Both the recording and erecting of nest boxes are vital in the efforts to help protect and enhance the birds. The information being collected from the survey will be fed into the national recording schemes and will be mapped using Geographical Information Systems, highlighting important buildings with nests and helping to inform the planning system.

Stephen Corcoran, the Cairngorms LBAP Officer, said: “Swifts are amazing birds and are important to the local biodiversity and can be seen flying above most communities around the Park.

“It is vital the swifts have somewhere to nest during their three month stay in the Park and the public can help with this by installing a nest in or outside their home or office.

“It is very inexpensive to do, does not affect the building and you will be supporting the local biodiversity and ensuring an important bird does not disappear from our skyline.

“If you are not able to install a nest then we would urge people to help record their sightings and nests so we can protect the birds, identify buildings that are valuable to nesting swifts and also get a clearer understanding of the difficulties they face.”

One local hotelier is already playing his part and is installing two nests, provided by the Cairngorms LBAP, at his premises. Kevin Shaw is the owner of Mountview Hotel in Nethy Bridge, which is also home to the Heatherlea (Scotland) Ltd, one of Britain’s leading wildlife holiday providers.

Mr Shaw said: “We are delighted to the Cairngorms LBAP for installing these nest boxes. Our customers take a great interest in all nesting birds and animals, and although we have not tempted swifts into them yet, we are very hopeful. House martins, house sparrows, pied wagtails, coal tits and long-eared bats have all nested in the hotel this year.”

It is also hoped that this year’s survey will see an increase in recordings from Deeside, Strathdon, Glenlivet, Atholl and Glen Shee.

A survey leaflet with information on swifts and nest boxes is available from the Cairngorms LBAP. It also includes a tear-off strip to record sightings. For more information on the Cairngorms Swift Nest Survey or the leaflet contact Stephen Corcoran or Justin Prigmore 01479 870 528 or email [email protected] or [email protected]