NEW MILTON SWIFTS – Well, they’re back again in New Milton!
Swifts migrate from southern Africa to northern latitudes in the spring – a journey typically of around 6,000 miles. They arrive with us in early May, find their mate and if they locate their old nest site, breed quickly. The young fly the nest site in August then both adults and young depart our shores in late-August, flying back to southern Africa.
Swifts really are birds of the air. They eat, sleep, drink and mate on the wing, landing only for brief periods, when breeding, in nooks and crannies in buildings during the period May to August. Young birds, on leaving the nest site, do not breed until they are three years old, so they have no need to land, anywhere, in that time. A grounded Swift cannot become airborne by itself.
Swifts are sneaky. Quite often nest sites in houses go unnoticed by occupants as the birds go about their business rapidly and quietly. Even when feeding young, which are often silent in the nest, they may only visit to feed three or four times in a day. The family will roost together at night in the nest space and they are ultra-clean. In fact, the only time anyone may be aware of Swifts in their area is during the summer, when they gather in small parties, wheeling around the sky, sometimes flying low down over roof-tops socialising and bonding with each other, with their high-pitched calls.
Swifts were more numerous in New Milton. All over the country their population has dropped by 50% in the last 25-30 years. They continue to decline at an alarming rate of about 5% per year. Swifts, like many other of our once common breeding birds, are now on the Red-list of Birds of Conservation Concern. The reason for this decline is simple – holes in buildings are being blocked when older wooden fascias and soffits (eaves) are replaced by tight-fitting plastic. Birds are therefore excluded; birds which have used the same nest site for years and years no longer have a home. Not only that, new spaces are limited so the numbers successfully breeding go down. The majority now breed in artificial spaces provided. Some years ago, New Forest District Council helped our local birds by making holes in some of their buildings in the town.
But all is not lost. We can all help Swifts by providing purpose-built spaces for them in our homes, shops, commercial premises in the town centre, industrial buildings or churches.
Hampshire Swifts is a registered charity and is passionate about Swifts. Our dedicated team is trying to change the fortunes of these beautiful and enigmatic birds by encouraging householders, businesses, building developers, local councils, and the clergy to install purpose-built nesting sites. They are promoting the installation of Swift-bricks ideally, or Swift-boxes, on any suitable property. Locally, a few kind people are having Swift boxes attached to their houses, so fingers crossed for successful occupation in the years to come.
Hampshire Swifts makes and installs Swift-boxes or can retro-fit Swift-bricks. Swift boxes start at £25 and are fitted free. If you would like more information on how to help bring Swifts back to New Milton, please see the Hampshire Swifts website at www.hampshireswifts.co.uk Alternatively contact their local representative Bob Lord on 07905-249587 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Do You Know What's On @The Quench?**
Hello! As we lead into the upcoming bank holidays, we wanted to let you all know what we have going on at our sister coffee shop, The Quench - next door to us in New Milton.
We believe nobody should feel lonely or
be at a loose end and as a result we have a great
calender of meets ups, classes and groups and we still
have room fir more if you'd like to host your own!
Come alone or bring a friend, there are
no strangers here, just new friends and a warm welcome.
All we ask is that you buy a cuppa and a snack (Which
could be as little as £4!) there is never a charge to
participate in any of our activities or groups. Tell
your friends, family, work colleagues and neighbours or
pop in for a copy of our flyer to put up in your
community or work space to spread the word. If you are
interested in hosting your own group (A book club, knit
and natter, crochet classes or a craft group for
example) please get in touch.
We're also hoping to run some weekend
events in our garden and cafe over the summer. We'll
send details out of those when we have dates finalised.
We may well be having another curry and quiz night - who
knows! Check out or current dates and see if
there's anything that you or someone you know might like
to come along to.....
Third Wednesday of Each Month
Gardening Club Get Together & Swap Meet
Oakhaven Wellbeing Pop Ups
Hope to see you there,
Kathy & The Team