News archive

March 2021

Friday, 26 March 2021

Young man looking through binoculars

Lancaster Swifts Project

We are pleased to share news of the formation of Lancaster Swifts, a Swift City project right here in our historic City. Swifts are amazing birds that visit for only 3 months between late April and July each year. During their summer migration they travel around 6000 miles from Africa to the UK to nest. They rely heavily on insect populations which are in greater abundance in warmer climates which is why they only visit for the short time that they do.

Unfortunately, UK swift populations have declined by 53% between 1995 and 2016. Whilst reasons for this decline are still not fully understood, the loss of nesting sites and lower insect numbers are thought to play a large part. But the good news; the RSPB has been working with local communities across the UK to create Swift City projects to help these iconic birds.

Whilst the main aim of the Lancaster Swifts project is to gather information about swift populations, nest sites and to raise awareness of the efforts that can be made to preserve and create nest sites, it will heavily rely on the involvement of the Lancaster community.

Already this project has seen a partnership form with the wonderful Lancaster and District Men's Sheds (LADS), who are building swift boxes for Lancaster Swifts. Some of the materials used have also been generously donated by local timber merchants Haldane Fisher. We hope to establish more local networks like these but so far, we are delighted to see how the Lancaster community is already very keen to get involved!

Lancaster Swifts aims to bring more than just conservation benefits. Swift projects are perfect to encourage people to engage with nature right on their doorstep as swifts are very much an urban species. Particularly after a difficult year due to Covid-19, the project will offer people a chance to feel connected and be a part of something that can create new life and help protect a species. People of all different backgrounds can come together to champion nature and as restrictions lift, it will also offer a social aspect. Lancaster Swifts embodies the RSPB's programme to Save Nature Through People and at the same time it will promote peoples' wellbeing through nature.

If you would like to be a volunteer and be a part of this project or you think you may have a collaboration opportunity to offer, then we would love to hear from you. Please email Lancaster.Swifts@rspb.org.uk. In the month of April, we will be offering online swift survey training as well as many other opportunities to get involved. We are truly excited to see how Lancaster Swifts will develop and grow over the coming years and the positive impact it could have for our local swifts.