Swifts and traditional nest sites in Anglican churches

50 years ago most of our local parish churches had nesting Swifts.
Now in my part of the country (North Oxfordshire) I reckon it’s roughly one church in seven, and even those will eventually disappear as essential repairs and maintenance work are carried out; or rather they would have disappeared. But this is now much less likely as a result of an agreement reached with representatives of the Oxford Diocese (Berks, Bucks and Oxon).


St Nicholas’ Islip, one of the many Oxfordshire churches which formerly had nesting Swifts


Holy Trinity Shenington where Swifts still nest under the eaves

The agreement is that if planned repairs will affect traditional nest sites, the sites will be left intact if possible, and if that can’t be done efforts will be made to create alternatives.
Also in appropriate cases the Diocese will look favourably at proposals to include Swifts bricks when major renovations are being undertaken, and at the idea of nest boxes behind louvred windows.
Major renovations are already planned for the church in Cropredy (below left) where Swifts still nest in a wall of the tower and we expect the church and the Swifts will benefit from the new agreement. Swifts have also nested for many years at the church in Kidlington (below right). We hope the same will apply if further repairs are required there.


St Mary the Virgin Cropredy


St Mary’s Kidlington

However all this is dependent on one thing – knowing which churches in these counties are being used by Swifts. At present I only have information about parts of Oxfordshire.
So this is a plea to anyone who knows of a church in these counties which has recently had nesting Swifts to report as below; and similarly to keep an eye out for Swifts entering nest holes in a local church, or indeed regularly screaming around the tower or spire.
Any reports for Berkshire please inform Jan Stannard: jstannard@siteset.co.uk
Any reports for Oxfordshire please inform me: chrismasonsw@gmail.com
Any reports for Bucks please inform Sue Hetherington: sue.hetherington.bbc@btinternet.com
Parties of Swifts wheeling and screaming around village church towers and steeples are one of the glorious sights and sounds of an English summer. I hope we can keep it that way.

Chris Mason