New swift calling system
New swift calling system
A new swift calling system was installed at Walthamstow Wetlands in July to attract the much-loved migratory birds to nest in the 24-metre Swift Tower.
Every summer, London welcomes hundreds of swifts ready to nest after their lengthy journey from Africa. The swift calling system recently installed at the Wetlands plays high-quality recordings of their song every morning and evening, mimicking the sound of a colony living in the tower. It is hoped that the calling system will attract the attention of young swifts, which may wish to explore new nesting habitats when they return to London in coming years.
As part of the £10.6 million project to open Walthamstow Wetlands to the wider public, the Engine House was restored to include the Swift Tower which replicates the chimney stack of the original building dating from 1894. This original chimney stack was a prominent industrial feature; however, it was demolished in 1960 after the pumping systems switched from coal to electric power. The new Swift Tower now rises in its place, and includes 54 specially designed swift bricks where the birds can raise their young during spring and summer.
Cllr Paul Douglas, Junior Cabinet Member for Culture, said: “Walthamstow Wetlands is one of London’s hidden gems. As the largest urban wetlands in Europe it offers Londoners a unique chance to see rare and endangered wildlife species as they enjoy the sweeping views across the city and wonderful green space. More importantly, it is a place where animals and plants can live in peace, away from the hustle and bustle of the city.
“I always enjoy seeing the swifts swoop over the reservoirs – it is a truly beautiful sight. The swift calling system means that for years to come we will be welcoming families of swifts and their descendants to the wetlands after their long migration.”
Sadly the numbers of swifts in the UK has dramatically plummeted since the early 90s, mainly due to loss of habitat and the use of pesticides which have dramatically decreased the amount of food available. The modernisation of many older buildings has also removed potential nesting habitats. As part of their conservation efforts, London Wildlife Trust are monitoring and recording swift numbers at Walthamstow Wetlands and hope to encourage more to visit with improved nesting habitats and food sources.
Edward Mayer of Swift Conservation will be hosting a free talk at Walthamstow Wetlands on Wednesday 3rd October between 6.30-8pm - please visit www.walthamstowwetlands.com/events-for-adults to reserve your space.
For more information about swift conservation in the UK please visit the Swift Conservation or Action for Swifts websites.