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Highcliffe, Winchester - Swifts continue to increase

You can read our previous blog about Swift boxes in the Highcliffe area of Winchester here and how the installation of Swift boxes started in 2019, following Winchester City Council’s commencement of reroofing their properties in the area.

It is no surprise that Swifts are still increasing and there are now 24 pairs in 107 boxes. And a further ten boxes have been installed in the last couple of months. And there are also still a few pairs in natural sites on the estate.

2020 boxes occupied by swifts

2021 boxes occupied by swifts

2022 boxes occupied by swifts

Portal Road

4

7

8

Gordon Avenue

9

11

14

Nelson Road

0

1

1

Milland Road

1

1

1

St Catherine's Road

0

0

0

Fivefields Road

0

0

0

Canute Road

0

0

0

Highcliffe Road

0

0

0

Vale Road

0

0

0

Total

14

20

24

Percentage of boxes available in each year occupied by swifts

16%

22%

22%

House Sparrow numbers are also increasing and have now been seen entering 71% of the boxes, several of which are time-shared between them and the Swifts.

2020 boxes occupied by any bird

2021 boxes occupied by any bird

2022 boxes occupied by any bird

Portal Road

24

7

28

Gordon Avenue

32

11

34

Nelson Road

2

1

2

Milland Road

1

1

3

St Catherine's Road

0

0

1

Fivefields Road

0

0

1

Canute Road

0

0

1

Highcliffe Road

0

0

1

Vale Road

0

0

5

Total

59

20

76

Percentage of boxes available in each year occupied by birds

69%

22%

71%

It should be noted that House Sparrows were not surveyed fully during 2021 due to Covid lockdowns and this is reflected in the table above.

It’s a shame that we don’t have detailed historical data but what is absolutely clear is that the Swifts and House Sparrows would have been virtually wiped out by the reroofing work by WCC had boxes not been installed in mitigation. There is absolutely no doubt that the loss of nest sites across the country is the primary cause of the decline even if some have not yet woken up this fact.

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