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Swift Survey - Swifts have declined by approximately 40% across Ireland in the last 10 years. Picture: Piotr Rak, Birdwatch Ireland Swift Survey - Swifts have declined by approximately 40% across Ireland in the last 10 years. Picture: Piotr Rak, Birdwatch Ireland

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Swift Survey by BirdWatch Ireland to take place in County Limerick this summer

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Swift Survey – Swifts have declined by approximately 40% across Ireland in the last 10 years. Picture: Piotr Rak, Birdwatch Ireland

Supported by Council administered Local Biodiversity Action Plan Fund

The good news is that Swifts have been seen paying particular attention to the nest box at Merchant’s Quay.
The good news is that Swifts have been seen paying particular attention to the nest box at Merchant’s Quay.

BirdWatch Ireland is undertaking a Swift Survey in County Limerick over the summer months.

Swifts have declined by approximately 40% across Ireland in the last 10 years and have moved on to the RED List, (highest level of conservation concern), in the recently released Birds of Conservation Concern in Ireland 2020-2026 (4th edition).

If you are aware of definite locations where Swifts are active or know of established colonies/ nest sites in Limerick City or County please email Lisa Kavanagh BWI Fieldworker at [email protected]

In addition the Limerick City Swift Nest Box Project is now in Year 2.

Please feel free to check these out for activity – although activity could take a few seasons to take hold.

The good news is that Swifts have been seen paying particular attention to the nest box at Merchant’s Quay.

If you do see any activity eg swifts flying in and around the boxes even if not entering them – report back to [email protected] or [email protected]

The boxes are located in

•                    Side of St Mary’s Cathedral

•                    Merchant’s Quay Offices (over the Pollen Patch)

•                    King John’s Castle Exhibition Space river facing (formerly The Tavern Inn)

•                    Hunt Museum facing the Potato Market.

•                    St Michael’s Church looking into People’s Park (boxes are inside the Grills but activity may be seen going in and out.)

Swifts were once a common sight in Limerick City, returning to nest each summer in small recesses in occupied and derelict buildings however the numbers of Swifts have dropped, mirroring national declines. Swifts which weigh as little as a Cadbury’s Creme Egg are built to spend most of their lives in constant flight only ever landing to nest. They are monogamous and pair as ‘teenagers’ but don’t actually breed until they are four years old.

Swifts have a remarkable and unique way of surviving bad weather and food shortages. Their eggs survive chilling at any stages of development if adults have to spend more time away from the nest foraging – something that would kill the embryos of any other bird.

The development of the egg will simply slow down until a parent returns. Bad weather can extend the incubation for four to five days!

The chicks hatch with reasonable fat reserves, and at any stage of development can survive long periods between feeds. During periods of bad weather, the adults sometimes move a long distance to find better conditions to feed themselves to survive.

The young can reduce their metabolic rate, and by becoming semi-torpid can survive for several days by using up their fat reserves, which can halve their weight. Periods of food shortage slow down the development of the chicks, and can delay fledging by two weeks.

  • The Limerick Countywide Swift Survey is supported by Limerick City and County Council through the government’s Local Biodiversity Action Plan Fund.
  • The Limerick City Swift Nest Box Project is a collaboration between Limerick City and County Council, BirdWatch Ireland’s Urban Bird Conservation Officer, Limerick City Parish (Church of Ireland, Limerick City), The Hunt Museum, Shannon Heritage, St. Mary’s Parish Men’s Shed, the Limerick Branch of BirdWatch Ireland and Limerick City Centre Tidy Towns it aims to support the swift population in Limerick as part of Limerick’s European Green Leaf City legacy projects.

 For more Bird stories go HERE

For more information on Swift Survey go HERE

Richard is a presenter, producer, songwriter and actor. He was named the Limerick Person of the Year (2011) and won an online award at the Metro Éireann Media and Multicultural Awards (2011) for promoting multi-culturalism online. Richard says that the ilovelimerick.com concept is very much a community driven project that aims to document life in Limerick. So, that in 20 years time people can look back and remember the events that were making the headlines.

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