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Everything hinges on swifts setting up home Sutton Bridge church tower

Library picture: Lesley Robinson in a previous conservation project at St Matthew's Church. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG150816-126TW (2041588)
Library picture: Lesley Robinson in a previous conservation project at St Matthew's Church. Photo (TIM WILSON): SG150816-126TW (2041588)

Conservationists are dreaming of the day when the eyes of the world will focus on residents in the tower at St Matthew’s Church, Sutton Bridge.

Everything depends on some amazing summer visitors, swifts, setting up home in specially installed nest boxes.

Four boxes went in, including one with a camera inside, during 2016 and recorded swift calls were played to let the birds know it was a welcoming and safe space to live and start a family.

Lesley Robinson, one of the conservationists, said the number of homes has increased to six and there’s now a camera with night vision in each box.

She said: “Inside the Trinity Room on the ground floor of the church, a monitor will display live footage of the nest activity.

“We will also have a dedicated website that the world can access from home, and this will also display live footage.

“One of the project aims is to enthuse and educate local school children with regard to conservation.”

Lesley says the nest boxes have been placed in the tower to help safeguard numbers of swifts so future generations “will have the opportunity to be astounded by these fast flying, darting, arrows”.

Swifts return to their old nesting sites so the conservationists are relying on younger birds to move into the church tower nest boxes as females start laying eggs once they are three-years-old.

Breeding numbers of swifts dropped by 42 per cent between 1995 and 2013, when the RPSB described the birds as being “in trouble”.

Lesley said: “For the first time this year, because of the grave concern regarding numbers, swift enthusiasts across the UK will be holding a swift awareness week. Our swift population dramatically halves every 20 years.”

The St Matthew’s conservationists will hold their Nature Watch Day from 10am-4pm on Saturday, June 23.

Lesley will give an illustrated talk at 2pm that day, although she hopes the highlight will be the incredible, darting swifts themselves providing “an exhilarating aerial performance”.

There will also be stalls, colouring competitions for youngsters and refreshments.

Entry is free.

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