It will be “swift watch” from the bell tower at Sutton Bridge Church

Keen conservationist Lesley Robinson, volunteer Charlie Doades and the Rev David Oxtoby check out the wild flowers in a corner of St Matthews churchyard at Sutton Bridge. SG150816-112TW
Keen conservationist Lesley Robinson, volunteer Charlie Doades and the Rev David Oxtoby check out the wild flowers in a corner of St Matthews churchyard at Sutton Bridge. SG150816-112TW
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One nest box has a CCTV camera inside and it’s hoped by next year that there will be some feathered residents for visitors to watch on the big screen inside the church.

Meanwhile technology is being used to play recorded calls of swifts night and morning so passing birds get the idea that St Matthew’s is a safe haven for them.

The RSBP says “swifts are in trouble”, with breeding numbers dropping by 42 per cent between 1995-2013.

Local conservationist Lesley Robinson approached the Rev David Oxtoby to see if the church could help.

With support from the vicar and help from volunteers, the nesting boxes have gone in – and, in a second conservation project, a quiet corner of the churchyard is developing into native wildflower meadow, which will help attract bees and butterflies.

Lesley said: “With advice from swift expert Dick Newell, swift boxes were made to specific plans and placed behind the louvres in the tower.

“We have been playing swift calls to attract our fastest level flying birds.

“Regrettably with modern farming methods, lack of insects and habitat, the future of our acrobatic swift population, is not looking hopeful.

“A church belfry is an ideal nesting site and many churches now across the country are having success in providing homes for these summer visitors.”

The boxes have been in situ for a while but so far no swifts have taken up residence.

Lesley said: “Typically, for the first year we have only created interest, with swifts simply flying around the tower regularly, attracted to our bird calls. Many churches have reported little success on the first year, but the following year the young birds return. And so we are hoping for swift families next spring.”

In the churchyard itself, a large swathe of brambles and nettles have been cleared to create an area for native wild flowers.

Lesley said: “This will not only provide food, shelter and homes for a wide variety of wildlife, bees and butterflies, but will also create an area of beauty and interest for visitors to the churchyard.

“Bird, bat, insect and hedgehog boxes have been donated and installed.

“The Caring for God’s Acre charity is dedicated to creating wildlife havens within the sanctuary of churchyards across the country, and we have followed their aim.”

Lesley said small grants came from Lincolnshire County Council and SBPC for conservation, swift nest boxes were donated by Hallgate Timber, of Long Sutton, and Shire Shed Company, of Sutton Bridge, and public donations paid for bird boxes.

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One nest box has a CCTV camera inside and it’s hoped by next year that there will be some feathered residents for visitors to watch on the big screen inside the church.

Volunteer Charlie Doades in the bell tower where four swift nesting boxes have been installed. SG150816-115TW

Volunteer Charlie Doades in the bell tower where four swift nesting boxes have been installed. SG150816-115TW

Meanwhile technology is being used to play recorded calls of swifts night and morning so passing birds get the idea that St Matthew’s is a safe haven for them.

The RSBP says “swifts are in trouble”, with breeding numbers dropping by 42 per cent between 1995-2013.

Local conservationist Lesley Robinson approached the Rev David Oxtoby to see if the church could help.

With support from the vicar and help from volunteers, the nesting boxes have gone in – and, in a second conservation project, a quiet corner of the churchyard is developing into a native wildflower meadow, which will help attract bees and butterflies.

Checking out the CCTV link to one of the swift nesting boxes in the bell tower. SG150816-113TW

Checking out the CCTV link to one of the swift nesting boxes in the bell tower. SG150816-113TW

Lesley said: “With advice from swift expert Dick Newell, swift boxes were made to specific plans and placed behind the louvres in the tower.

“We have been playing swift calls to attract our fastest level flying birds.

“Regrettably with modern farming methods, lack of insects and habitat, the future of our acrobatic swift population, is not looking hopeful.

“A church belfry is an ideal nesting site and many churches now across the country are having success in providing homes for these summer visitors.”

The boxes have been in situ for a while but so far no swifts have taken up residence.

Lesley said: “Typically, for the first year we have only created interest, with swifts simply flying around the tower regularly, attracted to our bird calls. Many churches have reported little success on the first year, but the following year the young birds return. And so we are hoping for swift families next spring.”

In the churchyard itself, a large swathe of brambles and nettles have been cleared to create an area for native wild flowers.

Lesley said: “This will not only provide food, shelter and homes for a wide variety of wildlife, bees and butterflies, but will also create an area of beauty and interest for visitors to the churchyard.

“Bird, bat, insect and hedgehog boxes have been donated and installed.

“The Caring for God’s Acre charity is dedicated to creating wildlife havens within the sanctuary of churchyards across the country, and we have followed their aim.”

Lesley said small grants came from Lincolnshire County Council and SBPC for conservation, swift nest boxes were donated by Hallgate Timber, of Long Sutton, and Shire Shed Company, of Sutton Bridge, and public donations paid for bird boxes.