A one-man mission is under way to save one of our summer visitors.
Morpeth man Graham Sorrie may live in Curlew Hill, but his focus is on an altogether different feathered friend as he launches a five-year plan to save the swifts.
Estimates suggest that there has been a 40 per cent decline in UK breeding swifts between 1995 and 2013 and they have ‘amber’ status on the RSPB list of threatened species.
The birds nest in old buildings, but when they are demolished or repaired, there are no nooks or crannies for them to access.
When Mr Sorrie carried out his own study in Morpeth last year, he found only about 30 of the birds and just seven nesting sites.
“The swifts are in difficulty and need our help,” he said.
“The numbers in Morpeth have declined very rapidly over the last few years.
“I have a three to five-year plan to get the numbers up because if we don’t start doing something there won’t be any swifts left in the area.
“These birds are pretty beneficial in that they eat insects.
“They are also very clean birds, and they give us some fantastic aerial displays.”
Mr Sorrie already has four swift nesting boxes at his Lancaster Park home and he hopes that by raising awareness of the birds’ plight, he will encourage more people to put up boxes of their own.
He also plans to engage local schools and businesses in the initiative and has identified potential sites for ‘swift towers’, which stand between 4.5m and 9m high and contain about 20 individual nest boxes. His strategy includes pushing local councils to add swifts to biodiversity plans and ensure the birds are considered when dealing with planning applications.
He will also speak to builders, saying it adds minimal cost to include swift bricks in renovations or new builds.
“The only reason swifts are in decline is because they are losing breeding sites,” he said.
“My objective is to significantly increase the number of breeding swifts over the next five years in Morpeth by adding 100 breeding sites.”
For more information, email Graham.Sorrie@yahoo.com or call 07787 106164.