On the red list: concern for House Martins and Swifts

House Martins and Swifts have just become Red-listed birds of conservation concern. Tragically, numbers have declined so dramatically that they are now of the highest conservation priority, with both species requiring urgent action.

In 2005, at our sister estate, Lower Mill Estate, we put up 60 artificial nesting boxes for House martins. In the following years, these were regularly used and the numbers across the Estate boomed as House martins built nests on the new houses in Clearwater and Howells Mere.

At our peak about three years ago we had nearly 250 nests which were thought by the British Trust for Ornithology to be the largest House martin population in the UK. Over the last two years, we have seen the number of House martins decline as they have struggled to get to the UK, following big storms in the Mediterranean.

We are keeping everything crossed that the numbers will increase and to support this, we are encouraging residents to leave natural nests on their houses all year, and we are creating areas of mud where the birds can collect nest-building material. It takes three days for House martins to repair a nest ready for the next summer, and three weeks to build a new one. A lot of work after a long journey from Africa.

At both our estates, we have swift towers which are designed to attract nesting swifts and we are hopeful that they will be used soon. All new properties are being fitted with a swift brick or swift box to encourage these beautiful birds to nest once they find us.

For more information on what we do or if you are a resident who would like to know how to help, please contact us at sustainability@habitatfirstgroup.com.

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