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Great news in Highcliffe, Winchester

Back in 2018, Winchester City Council were carrying out extensive re-roofing works on their Council-owned stock of properties. Following discussions with them about the devastating effect that this was having on the urban bird populations that the locals loved, they agreed to provide mitigation in the form of a free Swift box on each of the properties that they reroofed, and appointed an ecologist to survey the properties prior to carrying out any works.

Portal Road, Winchester 2018
Portal Road, Winchester 2018

In the Highcliffe area of Winchester, Hampshire Swifts also encouraged many owners of the privately-owned properties in the area to also put up a Swift box or two of their own. In fact, there are now 86 boxes in this area, and the survey carried out in 2020 showed that 75% of them were occupied by House Sparrows and that there were already 13 pairs of Swifts in occupation.

So how have they done in 2021? The results of the 2021 survey are now in and it shows that the number of boxes occupied by Swifts has jumped from 13 pairs to 21 pairs in just one year – an increase of 61% in one year. What a brilliant result - and this shows what can be done with a concerted effort to save our urban birds. Can’t wait for 2022.

Highcliffe, Winchester

Boxes occupied 2020

Boxes occupied 2021

Portal Road



Gordon Avenue



Nelson Road



Milland Road





Our grateful thanks go to Swift surveyors Catharine Gale, Caroline Hill, Rachel Hardy, and Rachel Remnant.

Dear BTO part 7...

Dear BTO, How long do you think it will be before Swifts are able to nest naturally in this roof again?

Reroofed property in Portal Road, Winchester 2020
Re-roofed property in Portal Road, Winchester 2020

That’s right NEVER, the use of plastic fascias and soffits precludes that. If it wasn’t for the erection of all these boxes then the wonderful populations of our three urban-nesting bird species (Swifts, House Sparrows, Starlings) would be virtually lost to this area of Winchester. We see no sign of insect decline being the cause of the catastrophic decline of Swifts. Hint – it’s actually the loss of nesting sites that is the major cause. Lots more Citizen Science to follow…

Please correct your website, and stop ignoring the obvious cause – please do the right science.

Tim Norriss – BTO member

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