Sligo Swift Survey 2019 to take place this summer

Sligo Swift Survey 2019 to take place this summer

Perhaps the most iconic and intriguing of our urban bird species, Swifts are a small migratory bird that visit Ireland each year to nest.

They travel from southern Africa where they have spent nine months of the year.  Their future is seriously threatened in Ireland due to loss of nesting sites and suitable feeding habitats.  From May to August each year, you will usually hear swifts before you see them, their distinctive piercing ‘screaming’ call is uttered on the wing as they fly superbly over roof tops at high speed.  

However, the good news is that there is a lot that can be done to halt the decline in Sligo’s swift population, knowing how many swifts there are and where they nest in our towns and villages is the first step.  The support and active engagement of local communities is critical to building greater awareness of this unique bird species and in undertaking conservation action where it is needed.  

This summer, BirdWatch Ireland, with the support of the Sligo Branch of BirdWatch Ireland will conduct a County Swift Survey in Sligo.  Although finding, recording and mapping Swift nesting sites is core to the Sligo Swift Survey, BirdWatch Ireland will also make focused efforts to get local communities and residents involved in recording but more so in the protection of Swift breeding colonies and nest sites. 

Across Ireland, Tidy Towns groups, Community Groups and interested individuals are playing a vital role in Swift Conservation by undertaking projects to directly help conserve swifts in their localities.  In Sligo, swift projects have been undertaken and are ongoing in Tobercurry, Ballymote and Sligo Town.  Similar to the All-Ireland Pollinator Plan, there is a large body of support for Swift conservation and BirdWatch Ireland are hoping this will continue in Sligo during and after the 2019 County Swift Survey.

If you would like to learn more about the County Sligo Swift Survey and how you can get involved you can attend the County Swift Survey Workshop in the Southern Hotel, Sligo Town on the 13th May 2019 at 7:30pm.  On the evening, members of the BirdWatch Ireland Conservation Team will be on hand to discuss Swift ecology, conservation and local involvement before going outdoors to view Swifts in flight.  The workshop is free and all are welcome to attend.

The ‘County Sligo Swift Survey 2019’ is an initiative of Sligo Heritage Forum and is an action of the County Sligo Heritage Plan 2016 – 2020.  The project is funded by Sligo County Council and is being delivered by BirdWatch Ireland on behalf of the Heritage Office, Sligo County Council.

If you would like more information please email or call Ricky Whelan (BirdWatch Ireland Project Officer) at rwhelan@birdwatchireland.ie or on 085 783 2545.

Also, you can listen back to Ricky Whelan, of BirdWatch Ireland, as he talks to Harry Keaney on Ocean FMs Arts House about a survey taking place in County Sligo; it concerns little birds knows as Swifts, one of the fastest flyers on the planet. (25.34.00) - https://www.oceanfm.ie/2019/04/28/arts-house-with-harry-keaney-april-28th-2019/