Worlington ‘Swift Fest’

Saturday 25th July 2015

My Wild Life is a weekly column running each Saturday throughout 2015 in the East Anglian Daily Times. Each week it features stories of action for local wildlife

By Don Macbean

In 2008 an old cottage in the village of Worlington that had provided homes for many swifts was demolished. The following year Action for Swifts (AfS), a Cambridge based charity, made and installed ten swift boxes in All Saints church tower at no cost to the church. Attraction calls were played and some birds showed interest. This was done with the full support of the congregation.

From a slow start momentum has increased and this year we have forty boxes with twenty-four nests and forty chicks most of whom have been ringed. Birds are showing interest in the empty boxes so we anticipate a continued increase in numbers. There are also video cameras in four of the boxes that are linked to a digital video recorder which provides fascinating viewing.

swifts circle high above Worlington Church

This year we held a Swift Fest to publicise our success and encourage others to provide homes for our declining swifts. Swifts make NO MESS so are perfect house or church guests. They will also enhance your local area with their spectacular aerial displays and evocative calls; additionally they will reduce the insect population.

Around a hundred and sixty people turned up and packed into the pews to hear well-received illustrated talks from Dick Newall of AfS and Edward Mayer of Swift Conservation. There was so much interest that a local bird enthusiast who makes swift boxes sold out and took many orders.

But it was the birds who were the stars, zooming round the thirteenth century tower on a perfect evening. Many people stayed until dusk.

Our fame had spread and the BBC was there to film the event. It will go out on Songs of Praise on Sunday 6th September the aim being to show what churches, with help from knowledgeable enthusiasts, can do to protect our threatened wildlife.

Photograph shows swifts circling All Saints Church in Worlington

Save our Suffolk Swifts has received support from the Heritage Lottery Funded Networking Nature initiative. More information about swift conservation, including how to log your sightings of swifts in Suffolk can be found at suffolkwildlifetrust.org/swifts

Tagged with: Species, Heritage Lottery Fund, My Wild Life, Swifts