A new £27,500 grant which will help the Exeter Wild City project improve the prospects for swifts in the city.
The grant has been provided by the Alcoa Foundation which is based in Pittsburgh, USA. The foundation supports projects globally, particularly related to environmental sustainability and climate change. The award is the latest development in a partnership between Devon Wildlife Trust and Alcoa Howmet’s Exeter facility, which also involves company staff volunteering for important habitat management projects at local nature reserves.
The initiative is being run by the Devon Wildlife Trust in partnership with Exeter City Council and the RSPB. It is part of the Exeter Wild City project, a scheme that is aiming to increase biodiversity throughout the city for both people and wildlife.
Earlier this year a pilot survey was run to identify swift hotspots in the area. Over 100 new sightings of ‘screaming’ swifts and nest sites were recorded across the city. The project leaders will be using this data as a focus for activity in order to support and expand current colonies.
Peter Burgess, who leads the project for the Devon Wildlife Trust, said: “There has been a severe decline in swifts throughout the country with numbers falling by up to 30 per cent in recent years. Swifts spend most of their lives on the wing and rely heavily on man-made structures in which to nest. Appropriate nesting locations however have also been in decline. We hope this project will help by providing new nesting sites and enabling developers, planners and the public to be more swift aware in their building and renovation work.”
The project also hopes to deliver educational activities to schools and further educational institutions over the duration of the one year project.
Peter said: “Education is a key part of the Exeter Wild City project and swifts will be used as a flagship species for work on urban wildlife and bird migration. Schools will be encouraged to host swift nest boxes, providing new homes for visiting birds for summers to come and educational opportunities for local young people.”
Stephen Fitt the RSPB’s Project Officer said: “Swifts are one of our most popular urban birds. Their low level screaming parties are one of the joys of summer evenings but are becoming far less common. The Alcoa Foundations generous support will help safeguard Exeter’s swift population for future generations and the lessons learnt will make a valuable contribution to swift conservation elsewhere in Devon and beyond.
Anyone from Exeter interested in finding out more about the project or who would like to host a swift nest box should call Devon Wildlife Trust on 01392 279244.
(from a press release)