Support for swifts from developers in Morpeth

A Morpeth resident’s efforts to help one of our fast-flying summer visitors have received support from developers in the town.

Thursday, 20th June 2019, 7:40 pm
Updated Thursday, 20th June 2019, 8:36 pm
Resident Lisa Matthews (front, centre) with Nathan Lowes (left) and Stephen Stewart from Karbon Homes with (back) Kevin McCullagh and Greg Wigham from Wensley Roofing. Picture by Helen Smith Photography.

Swifts nest in old buildings, but when they are demolished or repaired, there are no nooks or crannies for them to access.

Graham Sorrie has been working to increase the number of places for them to nest in Morpeth.

And ahead of Swift Awareness Week 2019, which runs from June 22 to 30, he has given an update on this work.

In recent months, Karbon Homes has invested in a programme of re-roofing its homes in the High Church estate.

Mr Sorrie spoke to surveyor Nathan Lowes, who is an investment team manager for Karbon and was overseeing the re-roofing works, and the two men put a plan in place to install some swift boxes.

Mr Lowes said: “Installing these new boxes is a pretty straightforward job, and it’s clear they make a huge difference to sustaining the size of the swift population in the local area.”

The former RAFA Club building on Dacre Street, known as Elm House, is being converted into a new fine dining restaurant by Zonic Developments and is set to be opened in August.

Mr Sorrie contacted David Nicholson from the company and he agreed to the insertion of two ‘swift bricks’ into the west facing gable end of the building.

Mr Nicholson said: “When Mr Sorrie explained why it would be useful to have these boxes, we were happy to oblige.

“Hopefully, they will be occupied by swifts soon.”

There is currently high scaffolding over the Old Registry on Newgate Street for the Northumberland Homes development.

Mr Sorrie said: “I have been delighted at the enthusiasm and willingness of Gary Herron and Mick Black from the company to improve the ecological amenity of the building and they have agreed to put eight swift nest boxes onto the building.”

He is also donating 12 nest boxes following a £200 grant from the Dickenson Memorial Fund. 

The recipients include Morpeth All Saints First School and Morpeth Rugby Club.

Mr Sorrie will be at Back Riggs Car Park on Tuesday at 8pm to lead a one-hour walk and talk on swifts. If anyone wants to join him, call or text 07787 106164 or email [email protected] According to the Swift Awareness Week organisers, swifts returned to the UK from their wintering quarters in Africa during spring in lower numbers than ever before since records began.

They had to battle through some very bad weather in the Mediterranean, which seems to have delayed and even killed some of the birds.

For more information about the week, go to