Swift actions save one of Lewisham’s largest protected bird colonies

Construction and Roofing specialists Breyer Group and local housing provider Lewisham Homes have been praised for their swift actions to preserve a high number of protected nesting birds in Lewisham.

 

A large colony of swifts was discovered nesting in the eaves and roof spaces of several homes in Lee whilst Breyer Group carried out external refurbishment works on behalf of Lewisham Homes.

 

As a species swifts are in general decline, with numbers in London reducing by more than 50 percent over the last twenty years. The loss of habitual nesting sites due to refurbishment works is known to be a key contributing factor.

 

Not wanting to further exacerbate the problem, Breyer Group liaised with several local, national and even international conservation groups on how best to protect the swifts, both immediately and in the future. Taking advice from Lewisham Council, the Forest Hill SE23 & Lewisham Borough Swifts Group, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and the International Swallows, Martins & Swifts Forum, Breyer Group worked with Lewisham Homes to suspend and reschedule the works.

 

To avoid obstructing the swifts’ flight paths and nest access, the top of the scaffolding was temporarily removed. It will not be put back up or the works continued until the young birds have fledged and flown the nests, expected for around mid to late August. With swifts known to be creatures of habit, returning to the same nest sites each year, when the works are completed special enclosed gaps will be left in the eaves to allow the birds re-enter.

 

During major refurbishment works at another of Lewisham Homes’ estates in Forest Hill, Breyer Group has put up nest boxes to provide more future habitats for swifts. The boxes were provided by the Forest Hill SE23 & Lewisham Borough Swifts Group through a crowd funding initiative, which Breyer Group is proud to support going forward. 


Rebecca Headd, of the Forest Hill SE23 & Lewisham Borough Swift Group, said: “We would like to say thank you for the amazing response to the nesting swifts. This priority species is in rapid decline, and the actions of Breyer Group and Lewisham Homes have saved one of the largest colonies of swifts in Lewisham.”

 

Our Contracts Manager, Duncan Johnson said: “We put the environment at the heart of our work, so Breyer Group is delighted to do what we can to help protect swift colonies. We will continue working closely with our partners to avoid the swift nesting season wherever possible, and on completion of works will leave a legacy of nesting spaces on local homes.”

 

Pictured are Breyer Group's Jamie Knipes (left), the Forest Hill SE23 & Lewisham Borough Swift Group's Rebecca Headd (centre), and Lewisham Homes’ Karen Sweeney (right) looking out for nesting swifts at Valentines Court, Forest Hill

Swifts are known to migrate from Africa to nest in gaps high up in British buildings between May and August. If you plan to carry out roofing works during this time, please look out for nesting swifts, and create new nest access holes when re-roofing. Anyone can help swifts by installing swift boxes and reporting any sightings to the Forest Hill SE23 & Lewisham Borough Swift Group on 07772 290 891 or via its Facebook page.

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