Support for swifts to nest in various town locations

The nest boxes that have been fixed to the outside of Graham Sorrie's home.
The nest boxes that have been fixed to the outside of Graham Sorrie's home.

A Morpeth resident’s efforts to help one of our fast-flying summer visitors are progressing well.

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

A swift in flight.

A swift in flight.

When he moved to Lancaster Park, Graham Sorrie was delighted to find a pair of the birds nesting on his house. However, a decade later, he noticed that the number of places for them to nest in Morpeth was reducing due to uPVC soffits or new extensions being installed.

Over a period of years, the swift nesting boxes placed on the outside of his home successfully attracted pairs.

Today there are eight boxes on his property and two more outside a neighbour’s house, and there are now nine pairs returning every year in early May.

The RSPB has been asking for people, organisations and businesses across the UK to support swifts for some time given the decline in numbers over the last 25 years and the fact that they have amber status on its threatened species list.

When his first four nesting boxes had the desired effect, Mr Sorrie looked at what could be done across the town.

He created the Morpeth Swift Conservation programme in 2014 and has been working since then to raise awareness and encourage others to put up nest boxes.

“A lot needs to be done across the country because the decline has been about 6.5 per cent each year over the last 10 years,” he said.

“But I’m pleased with how things have gone in Morpeth over the last four years.

“There are now 14 nesting boxes in Lancaster Park in addition to my eight, other areas of north Morpeth have them and six more will be going up in Dawson Place following a recent letter drop.

“A swift call system was put in one of the two boxes outside Morpeth Rugby Club last year to help attract the swifts in the Mitford Road area. It will operate for two months each year.

“And I have been able to persuade Barratt Homes and McCarthy and Stone to add some swift bricks to their South Fields and William Turner Court developments respectively.

“These bricks allow them to nest in the wall cavities and are even better than retrofitting swift next boxes.”

For information about helping swifts in Morpeth, call 07787 106164 or email Graham.Sorrie@yahoo.com