Breeding pairs of swifts sighted in Blackdowns

Encouraging sign after swift numbers dropped dramatically in the South West.

Volunteers have been helping conservationists to understand more about swifts in the Blackdown Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The Blackdown Hills AONB team, the RSPB and Devon Wildlife Trust teamed up to appeal for sightings of swift nests and low flying ‘screaming parties’ last May, following similar surveys in 2009 and 2010 which reported no sightings of the birds in the AONB.

This year, the response from local people has been more encouraging, with Hemyock emerging as a particular hotspot. Reports came in of at least six pairs nesting in the village.

Blackdown Hills AONB manager Linda Bennett said: “The full results of the survey will take a little longer to analyse, but I am delighted at the response.

“It’s great to know that we have breeding pairs, and we must continue to monitor them in future years.

“Swift numbers have fallen dramatically in the South West recently, and we must do everything we can to help them to thrive.

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“I would like to thank everyone in the Blackdown Hills who took part, and encourage even more people to get involved next year.”

Swifts nest in the UK for just three months over the summer and have now returned to Africa for the winter.