Swifts and Martins By Dave Clark

With the spring it is the time of year for migrating birds to return to Britain to nest, breed and raise their young. Two particular long distant migrants are attracted to the Dulwich area because of the abundance of food and nesting sites.

These are Swifts and House Martins, both of which consume insects in the air and our large green areas, gardens, and park lakes provide ample opportunities for a good feed, More importantly, they are dependent on our us for nesting sites. Both species nest on, or close to buildings. The Martins build a mud nest under the eaves of houses whilst Swifts look for any nooks and crannies that can accommodate their tiny frames, again often under the eaves of houses.

The House Martin in particular has recently shown signs of a decrease in population. Apart from the fact that they may encounter extreme weather conditions on their trip from Africa, there are also indications that nesting sites are being reduced, often inadvertently. Both species return to the same nesting sites year on year unbeknown to us. During home improvements we have sometimes removed, painted over or just simply filled in their nests.

So to continue to enjoy their fantastic aerobatic displays we need to apply a tad of diligence and a degree of encouragement.

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