Whilst carrying out external refurbishment works to housing stock in the London Borough of Lewisham on behalf of Lewisham Homes, a large colony of swifts was identified nesting in the eaves and roof spaces of several properties in the Lee area.
Numbers of swifts are in general decline and in London have reduced by more than 50% over the last twenty years or so, with one of the main reasons being the loss of habitual nesting sites due to refurbishment works.
Swifts are now Amber-Listed in the UK as Birds of Conservation Concern and are now being viewed as a Priority Species.
As a consequence, Breyer Group is working closely with Lewisham Homes and liaising with a number of local, national and international organisations to protect the swifts both immediately and in the future, including :-
- The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds.
- The Forest Hill & Lewisham Borough Swift Group.
- Lewisham Council - Ecological Regeneration & Open Space Department
- The International Swallows, Martins & Swifts Forum.
To prevent obstruction of the flight paths and nest entrances of the colony we have suspended works and temporarily removed the top lift of scaffolding. Works have been rescheduled in agreement with Lewisham Homes and scaffolding will not be reinstated and works continued until the young birds have fledged and flown the nests which should be by mid-August.
Swifts are creatures of habit and return to the same nest sites each year so on completion of our works special nesting boxes will be installed.
Elsewhere in the Borough of Lewisham on the Valentines Estate in Forest Hill we have also worked with Lewisham Homes and the Forest Hill & Lewisham Borough Swift Group during major refurbishment works to install special swift nesting boxes to provide future habitats on completion of our works. The nest boxes were provided by the Forest Hill & Lewisham Borough Swift Group through a crowd funding initiative which Breyer Group is pleased to support going forward.
Breyer Group have had similar experiences in the London Borough of Islington on the Dovercourt Estate, where by liaising closely with the Islington Swifts Group valuable wildlife habitat and bird's nests were protected during the programme of planned maintenance works.
We at Breyer Group are delighted to do what we can to help protect swift colonies wherever we work. We will continue to work with our Clients and the various Swift organisations to survey sites in advance of planned works and seek to adjust programmes to avoid the swift nesting season between May and August, and leave a legacy of swift nesting boxes on completion of works.