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Post Info TOPIC: Species in Focus - Swift.


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RE: Species in Focus - Swift.


Hi Bill,

I've sent you a pm.

Steve.

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Stephen Fuentes wrote:

Hello again Bill,

Swifts are common above my house in Bredbury every summer, and I have observed them entering through the eaves of my next door neighbours house on more than one occasion, so I suspect there's some breeding going on there. The other evening, there must have been 50 or so screetching above my back garden. The estate where I live was built in the mid 1930s, and as you say, housing of this era has the type of architecture which obviously appeals to these birds. Unfortunately, my house has fascia boards, so I won't have any Swifts come knocking on my door !!

Cheers,

Steve.





Hi Steve,

It's great to hear that you have such an exciting spectacle over your house. Terrific too that they appear to be nesting in your next door neighbours house. Not exactly sure where you live in Bredbury but tetrad SJ99F (Bredbury Green) appears to cover the largest part of Bredbury. I had a quick look on the BTO atlas website and there is not as yet a confirmed breeding record for Swift for that tetrad or indeed for the neighbouring tetrads of SJ99A (Woodbank Park) or SJ99G (Haughton Dale), which might possibly cover other parts of Bredbury. If you could possibly enter up a confirmed breeding record via the BTO website for whichever of these tetrads your neighbours house is in, then that would be really appreciated and certainly help towards improving the number of confirmed records we have for this species for our local breeding birds atlas. If you need any assistance, I will be delighted to help - please send me a pm or if you could send a text to my mobile, then I'll call you back. Alternatively Steve, if you are happy to provide me with a grid reference or address and a date via either of the above methods, then I will ensure your record gets into the database.

Best wishes,

Bill.


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GREATER MANCHESTER NEEDS YOUR BIRD SIGHTINGS!


Status: Offline
Posts: 93
Date:

Hello again Bill,

Swifts are common above my house in Bredbury every summer, and I have observed them entering through the eaves of my next door neighbours house on more than one occasion, so I suspect there's some breeding going on there. The other evening, there must have been 50 or so screetching above my back garden. The estate where I live was built in the mid 1930s, and as you say, housing of this era has the type of architecture which obviously appeals to these birds. Unfortunately, my house has fascia boards, so I won't have any Swifts come knocking on my door !!

Cheers,

Steve.

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Posts: 1024
Date:

Hi Rick,

As you rightly say absolutely amazing birds and they certainly are a thrilling sight to behold when good numbers assemble over a housing estate and screaming squadrons put on their best aeronautical display. It's such a real shame that their numbers appear to be decline - mainly due to the influence of man. Bit more on that here. And another bit here on what could possibly be done to help the Swift, with a bit of forethought from modern day house builders and probably costing them very little extra in terms of time, effort or money.

Best wishes,


Bill.


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GREATER MANCHESTER NEEDS YOUR BIRD SIGHTINGS!


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Hi Bill,

I went to Elton Reservoir last night and said to myself, "I hope swift is the next species in focus." It's my new favourite bird, overtaking kingfisher. They are absolutely amazing and subtly beautiful birds.

The Swift: As long and narrow, as if the bow has flown away with the arrow.

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The Swift is one of our later arriving summer migrant species and this fact taken in conjunction with its relatively early departure date, allows us only a comparatively small time frame in which to observe and record its breeding activities. Never mind the additional fact that it nests in areas containing houses and buildings, where bird watching might not be that welcome an activity, then maybe it isn't that surprising to learn that this is certainly proving to be one of those species for which we are really struggling to obtain confirmed breeding records! Yet at the time of our last atlas project (BBGM), our birding predecessors were able to log this species as occupying 216 (66%) of the available tetrads and breeding was confirmed in 44% of those occupied tetrads - i.e. 96 of our 2 km by 2 km squares. We are now at the three-quarters way stage of our ongoing attempt at compiling a modern day atlas and breeding for Swift had been confirmed in just 29 tetrads in GM. This represents only 30% of the BBGM total. Further gloomy news is provided by data from the Breeding Birds Survey (BBS) which shows a statistically significant and alarming decline of 39% for Swift in north-west England for the period 1995 to 2008.

So where best to look; what types of housing to look at and in which areas? BBGM noted that "buildings constructed between the wars still appear to be sought after, while many suburban areas with post-1945 housing development are without breeding Swifts". Has the housing stock in Greater Manchester improved even further in the general quality of its build since BBGM? Almost certainly and if so, then it surely must be expected that an improved housing stock for breeding humans will sadly almost certainly be regarded as an inferior attraction for breeding Swifts!

And the best time to look? In GM the first trickle of birds usually arrive in the second half of April, although they are just an advanced guard to the more substantial numbers which usually turn up in early May. This species is single brooded and egg-laying is normally undertaken from late-May onwards and incubation is normally 17 to 27 days and can be prolonged during spells of poor weather. Likewise the fledging period can also be variable for the same reason and is between 37 to 56 days with a mean of 42.5 days. For this species we are most unlikely to see the actual nest and as the young become independent immediately upon fledging the best chance to confirm breeding for this species is for us to be both skilled and fortunate enough to see adults entering or leaving their nest site. The breeding code ON (adults entering or leaving nest-site in circumstances indicating occupied nest) should then be used when inputting our valuable records at the BTO Atlas web page.


A distillation of the data for the first three seasons of our current atlas project would show the first two letter confirmed breeding code reported on 31st May and the last on 26th July. The bulk of confirmed breeding records were noted in June (66%), with a further 31% in July.

So just to re-iterate - this species, for a variety of reasons, presents a considerable challenge to our bird watching and atlasing skills. Let's try and rise to this challenge in this our final summer and do our best to confirm breeding for this species in as many tetrads as is possible.

Enjoy your birding and good luck with your Swift spotting!


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GREATER MANCHESTER NEEDS YOUR BIRD SIGHTINGS!
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