The map shows the locations of Swift nest sites in the Avon Valley using data submitted to the Hampshire Swift survey over the past few years (more detail). The bottom cluster is in Ringwood, the upper one in and around Fordingbridge. Both towns are close to the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Wildlife Trust reserve of Blashford Lakes. Blashford Lakes is well-known as a stop-over point for huge gatherings of Swifts during migration periods and during poor weather during the breeding season. The presence of such a rich food source near two built-up areas suggests that the potential for boosting the breeding population of Swifts in and around both these towns could be enormous. There are at least 2 precedents for such a suggestion. Rutland Water, site of BirdFair, is thought to be used as a feeding ground for Swifts from the Midlands and Lough Neagh in N.Ireland is well-established as supporting large populations of Swifts.
Hampshire Swifts gave a talk to the Ringwood Natural History Society earlier this week and a large and enthusiastic audience welcomed the idea of working across the town to boost the availaibility of Swift nest sites.
All we need is a local Swift champion, someone who is willing to set up a small Swift group to investigate the potential of both towns to support more Swifts. Hampshire Swifts can provide support and guidance. If you want to discuss this in more detail, come and speak to us at the New Forest National Park Volunteer Fair on Sunday (details) or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.