Totley Volunteers launch campaign to protect Sheffield swifts

A conservation group in Totley are launching a campaign to help boost the number of swifts in their community.

The Totley Swift Survey, launched by volunteers from The Friends of Gillfield Wood, reached out to volunteers to map sightings of the migratory birds during.

Swifts travel over 6000 miles from Africa to the UK every year, arriving in late-April and leaving in August.

Chris Measures, Chairman of Friends of Gillfield Wood, said they had seen swift conservation groups being launched in Derbyshire and wanted to expand efforts to the Totley area.

He said: “A lot of people know what a swift is and have an interest in them. They are a very iconic bird to see during the Spring and Summer months.

“Some people might want to monitor what’s in their garden, or what’s on their road, or even what’s in the whole village. It’s about letting people help in whatever way they can.”

The group, which has gained over 100 members since 2011, holds monthly talks and conservation events to survey local wildlife and connect residents to nature.

After the survey is completed, the group aim encourage the installation of nest boxes in key sites, as well as protect nesting sites that already exist in the village.

As well as helping the birds nest, Chris said that the survey could create new opportunities to bring the community closer to their natural environment.

He said: “Once we have an idea of where swifts are, we will give people the opportunity to go to the nesting sites and see swifts living around them.

“We would also like to involve school in the project. We are hoping this project will develop and be able to capture children’s imaginations.”

Swifts nest in house walls in the Spring period, however the renovation or demolition of old buildings has reduced the areas where they can settle throughout the UK.

According to estimates from Action for Swifts, the number of swift pairs arriving in the UK has plummeted by 32% between 2009 and 2016.

The campaign group also stated that between 200,000 and 400,000 nest boxes need to be installed in the UK to ensure numbers returning to healthy levels.

Chris said that Sheffield City Council should be encouraged to include swift nesting holes into new builds in the city centre to increase efforts across the city.

He said: “It would have a phenomenal impact. You go to some cities in Europe and the swifts are screaming around all the buildings, and Sheffield should be the same.

“I don’t know the status of swifts in Sheffield City Centre, but efforts can be expanded anywhere. If a village can do it, a city can do it.”

If you are interested in supporting the Totley Swift Survey or want advice in supporting swifts where you are, contact Friends of Gillfield Wood at swiftsoftotley@outlook.com.