The Swift Mapper app has been updated and improved in conjunction with the RSPB and is used by the RSPB to collect data on the location of Swift nest sites across the UK
A number of us helped with the testing of the revised app and it is an impressive piece of software which makes it very easy to enter and retrieve data on Swift nest sites.
Despite this, in our opinion there remains one critical issue with the app and this is one which will not be resolved in the near future. It concerns the information required to precisely identify the location of a nest site. The RSPB have confirmed that they cannot allow the use of an address to define the location of a Swift nest site; instead the app allows you to drop a marker on a map, as shown below:
The software used by the app will then predict the house upon which the nest site is located. This cannot be verified by the observer as the app cannot accept an address for reasons of data protection.
In order to explain our view it is necessary to ask why we set up the Hampshire Swift survey in 2016. The whole purpose of the Hampshire Swift survey is to provide precise data on Swift nest sites to HBIC so these sites can be protected in case of planned development. In contrast to Swift Mapper, the Hampshire Swift Survey does allow the precise address to be entered and observers are also asked to enter an 8 figure grid reference. These are cross-checked and verified before the record is accepted. We can be sure, therefore, that the data we collect via our survey is highly accurate. We cannot be so confident about the Swift Mapper data.
The RSPB may have different uses for the data collated via Swift Mapper so the lack of emphasis on absolute precision may not impact so much on the utility of their data but in our case, precision is everything and so we urge anyone recording and logging Swift nest site data in Hampshire to do so via the Hampshire Swift Survey on our website. This is the best way to protect nest sites in Hampshire. Our data are made available to the RSPB so they won’t miss out on records.
The Hampshire Swift Survey data on our website has just been updated to include 2019 records and can be accessed at https://www.hampshireswifts.co.uk/copy-of-hampshire-swift-survey. The database now comprises 1327 individual locations where Swift nest(s) or low level screaming parties have been reported. The earliest record is one from a Mr Gilbert White in 1787 and the dataset also includes 586 records submitted to the RSPB between 2007 and 2016 and 739 records contributed by Hampshire Swifts observers primarily in the 4 years from 2016. A screenshot of the mapped data is shown below. The map can be expanded to show in great detail the location of Swifts in your area and is a great tool for those interested in expanding our knowledge of where these fabulous birds choose to nest.