Recordings of swift calls played from Lewes depot roof will encourage birds to nest

Recordings of swift calls will play from a small stereo system on Lewes Depot’s roof this summer, in order to encourage swifts to nest.

Friday, 21st May 2021, 12:14 pm
The Depot cinema, Lewes. Photo: Peter Cripps

Swift bricks were installed at the building in 2017, but so far no swifts have taken up residence, a spokesman said.

This is likely to be because it is not an established site.

Depot’s Green Ambassador, Natasha Padbury, put the call out to Lewes Swift Supporters, who have come up with a novel solution: playing pre-recorded swift calls to lure them to the roof.

The swift calls will be heard in the morning and early evening for two hours at a time, between May and July, the spokesman said.

“The aim is to trick scouting juveniles, or displaced adults whose regular home no longer exists, into thinking Depot is an existing nesting site,” said the spokesman.

“A variety of calls will be played on a loop.

“Swift calls are commonly described as a high-pitched ‘scream’ and Natasha has been careful to liaise with local residents.

“Long term, the hope is to provide a nesting site they and future generations can rely on each year.”

The Lewes Depot is keen to help protect and expand the town’s falling population of swifts.

Lewes has always been an important town for the birds, with an estimated 10 per cent of Sussex swifts nesting in the area.

Renovation of old buildings and modern building methods mean that many of the nooks, crannies and eaves where they historically built their nests have disappeared.

In addition to swift bricks, the building also incorporates brick holes for sparrows – and bats too – in the same location.

Natasha is keen to hear of any wildlife sightings.

She said: “Do let us know if you spot any of these species (or others!) coming and going from them.

“We’d be delighted to hear that their ‘airBnB’ is being used.

““There are already sightings of Swifts having returned to Lewes after their long migration from mid Africa so keep your eyes to the sky!”