May 22, 2024

Housing community helps give homes to birds in severe decline

A swift response from Council staff has helped provide new homes amongst homes for a UK bird of high conservation concern.

Work started recently under the direction of Denbighshire County Council’s Biodiversity team to provide extra seasonal housing around the county for Swifts.

Backed by the Welsh Government through the Local Places for Nature grant, the project has set out to install new nesting sites for the birds.

Over 30 new homes have now been placed in Rhyl thanks to support from Denbighshire Housing and its tenants.

Swifts are summer visitors to the UK, flying nearly 3400 miles from a winter in Africa to breed in the UK. They pair for life returning to the same site each time.

The birds like to nest in homes and churches, using small gaps in the roofs. Unfortunately, as older buildings are renovated, roof gaps closed and new builds designed differently, the birds have fast disappeared.

Insects that swifts need to feed their young and refuel for their migrations are dwindling with the loss of habitat such as wildflower areas and freshwater. The Council is working to restore this loss through the management of its Wildflower Meadows Project which has so far created nearly 70 acres of suitable habitat, supporting the regeneration of insect and bird populations.

Despite local and wider work, the swift is currently on the highest conservation priority level on the Red list in the 2021 UK Conservation resulting in urgent action being needed.

Now across Bruton park in Rhyl, 33 new swift boxes have been installed to support the birds when they arrive.

This is alongside work ongoing with schools, churches and office buildings, to supply them with nest boxes to put up on sites to give new and safer nesting sites for the birds.

The Biodiversity Team has hopes to work next with the residents in Ruthin to boost populations of swifts there.

Biodiversity Officer Evie Challinor explained: “It is really important we do all we can to help this under threat bird survive by addressing one of the main reasons for the decline of their populations. These boxes will be fantastic in giving them a home around Bruton Park, right next to the community woodland which will provide them with food to hopefully feed any young ones they produce.”

Emlyn Jones, Head of Planning, Public Protection and Countryside Services, added: “We are grateful to our colleagues in Denbighshire Housing and their residents for this support for the project at Rhyl that will help stabilise local swift populations.”