News archive

July 2018

Saturday, 28 July 2018

New programme of wildlife talks, walks and trips

New programme of wildlife talks, walks and trips

We run events every month all around the London Borough of Bromley and beyond. There's something for everyone. From evening talks by the country's leading wildlife authors and experts to guided local walks and day trips to nature reserves.

All our events are open to everyone, of all ages. From expert wildlife watchers to absolute beginners.

We'll also be arranging other events - please check our website or Facebook page for the latest details. These will include conservation volunteering days - a great way to help nature, learn about conservation issues and gain valuable hands-on experience.

You can download our 2018 / 2019 events programme on the link below. More details will be published on our Events page soon.

Download file

Friday, 6 July 2018

Bromley Swift Survey - July update

Bromley Swift Survey - July update

On 12 May we launched the first comprehensive survey of the London Borough of Bromley's swifts. The survey will close at the end of July as this is when our swifts will be departing for Africa but there's still plenty of time to find them. The first half of July is when the UK's swift population is at its largest as young swifts fly into Europe from Africa much later than the adults.

With only a few weeks to go, we reflect on the survey so far.

The purpose of our survey is to find out where Bromley's swifts are still nesting. Swifts nest under the eaves in our buildings, so the survey is only covering areas of housing. We've not been surveying green spaces, which swifts only visit to feed on insects.

We need to know where swifts are nesting because their numbers are in a dramatic decline. Swifts are a quintessential sign of summer but we only have half of the numbers that were in our skies 20 years ago. A shortage of nesting places, as we renovate our homes and build new inaccessible ones, and insects are likely to be the key reasons behind this decline.

Once we know where they are still nesting in Bromley we will know where to focus efforts to protect their nesting places and to install new swift bricks and boxes. They are sociable birds and like nesting in colonies so it's best to target conservation action close to the areas where they are already nesting.

From May onwards over 120 people from across the borough have been walking the streets near to where they live, searching for our nesting swifts. This is a fantastic number of people and has allowed us to cover the majority of the areas where there is housing in the borough. We have surveyors everywhere from Crystal Palace in the north west of our borough, to Pratts Bottom in the south east - and most places in between.

We asked our surveyors to let us know if they see any low-flying swifts or a swift entering a nest site under the eaves of a building. A low-flying swift (at around rooftop height) is very likely to be nesting nearby. A high flying swift may be nesting far away from Bromley.

Our map of Bromley's nesting swifts was almost blank before this summer's survey started. Two months in, we already know much more. Surveyors have discovered lots of new colonies, with strong concentrations of nesting activity in some areas - Bromley's 'swift hotspots'.

Areas with housing that was built before 1945 have been far more likely to contain nesting swifts than areas of newer housing but there have been exceptions. We've found a block of postwar flats that harbours multiple swift nests, as well as swifts in a new housing estate.

There are places where there haven't been any swift sightings yet. Maybe this will change in July but it's just as useful to know where swifts are nesting as it is to know where they aren't nesting - so it's vital for us to get all the results from the survey.

It's been exciting as the results have been coming in and we look forward to sharing the full results after the survey. Watch this space!

We will then be launching a plan of action to help our borough's swifts. We'll be looking for volunteer swift caseworkers in Bromley to take this forward. You can read an outline of the role here: www.rspb.org.uk/get-involved/volunteering-fundraising/volunteer/volunteer-opportunities/opportunities/8713/. Please email bromleyrspb@gmail.com if you're interested or would like more information.

We're also be looking for volunteer swift champions in Bromley - a team of people to help protect their local swifts and encourage others to get involved. Please let us know if you're interested.

A huge thank you to everyone who is taking part in the survey - good luck with your July surveying.

There are places where we have gaps and it's always useful to have more pairs of eyes looking for swifts as they are very easy to miss.

Whether you are taking part in the survey or not, if you see a low-flying swift or a swift entering a nest site in a building anywhere in the London Borough of Bromley, please email bromleyrspbrecords@gmail.com.