We owe a huge debt of gratitude to Chris Packham for his recent videos publicising the e-petition requesting that the Government mandate the installation of an integral Swift box into all new homes, at an average rate of one per dwelling. The e-petition was started by Hannah Bourne-Taylor following her Feather Speech at the entrance to Downing Street. Such is the power of Chris Packham on social media that it took just a couple of days to bump the petition signatures up by about 25,000 so that it got over the 100,000 line at which the issue is considered for a debate in Parliament. It now stands at over 107,300.
By chance we were asked recently to install a Swift box on Chris’s childhood home in Southampton. So Roger and Ron Cooke went to do the installation.
The current owners knew that Chris had lived there because he had engraved his name and the word Kestrel into the brickwork at the rear of the house.
Chris tells me “I’m glad the graffiti lives on, I carved it in 1975. And when I was a kid, and whilst my dad was in residence we always had a pair of swifts in the attic. As a special treat I was allowed to climb up and peer at them with a torch…. and get covered in dust and horrible insulation. Seeing the two eggs glowing in the Eveready dim light was magical.”
Isn’t that brilliant. Those are the sort of moments that as a child, stick with you as memories for life. Sadly my parents had little interest or understanding of the natural world. I don’t think my grand-children have ever seen a swift – but I’ll make sure that 2023 will be the year they do, and perhaps they will from then on look forward to the return of the Swifts each summer as I do.