The Swifts of Cattistock

We are Swift Action, a small group of Cattistock adults and children who care about Swifts and who are asking for your help to keep our Cattistock Swifts safe. Did you know Swifts return to the same nest every year and do you know why this is so amazing? It’s because, when a Swift leaves its nest in Cattistock, with its newly hatched young, it is beginning a commute of over 14,000 miles, traveling to and from Africa, but always returning, a year later, to exactly the same nest in Cattistock.

Do you share your home with a Swift?    If you are lucky enough to have Swifts nesting in the eaves of your house this will be your own, very special guest who has travelled thousands and thousands of miles to reach you and they will do this year after year. How lucky are you!

Please don’t lock them out.  Sadly, Swifts were added to the red list in the 2021 UK Conservation Status Report. Being on the red list means Swifts need urgent action for conservation. Globally threatened, swifts have experienced significant declines in populations and one reason for this is that the nesting sites they return to are disappearing.

Cattistock is taking Swift Action.  Thanks to the support of the Cattistock Community Fund (CCF) we have been able to start a project called SWIFT ACTION which aims to raise awareness about these amazing migratory birds and take proactive steps to protect them, ensuring that when our Cattistock Swifts arrive back in our village, they have a safe nest to return to.

Last year people in our community spotted swifts in distress; birds were returning to nesting sites only to find they were blocked. This was often innocent mistakes made by people who hadn’t realised they were filling in holes which were the door to the Swifts nest, and we felt powerless to do anything. This year, thanks to the CCF, we have the tools to respond.

Working with homeowners in our village we are launching a project to install special Swift nesting boxes at sites identified as being places where Swifts want to nest.

What can you do?   Swift Action wants to give you the opportunity to give a Swift a home and you can get involved by attaching a swift box to your house. We can help by providing a free box, installation, and a free Swift caller to attract the birds to you.

Swift Action also needs your eyes and ears; we want to celebrate the return of our Swifts to our village and would love to see photos of the first sightings. We want people to remember to look up at the skies and watch out for our Cattistock Swifts coming home.

We also recognise that Swifts can be very evocative for some, triggering memories of summers long ago and we would love to hear these memories if you wanted to share them.

Finally, we are keen to get youngsters involved and hope that you can encourage children to look out for Swifts and help them understand why they are so special.

When to look up at the sky? Our Swifts are heading to us right now, flying at heights of around 9000 feet. They will reach us any time between the end of April and the start of May and are easy to spot, looking like an arrow whirling through the sky and often flying in groups. Please keep an eye out for them and let us know when you see them. Crucially if you see them repeatedly diving down at an area of a house and seeming in distress, please let us know.

Help us……we only have a limited number of boxes, so, to give our project longevity, we want to invite you to help us fundraise for more boxes, and if you want to make a donation to support this project you can do so through the Cattistock Community Fund (CCF), even a few pounds will make a huge difference to a nesting swift family which just travelled thousands of miles to reach Cattistock.

We want to talk anything SWIFT so please get in touch with us either by email or on Facebook: Swift Action Cattistock.  Alternatively watch this video.

Thank you so much. Nat, Liz, Merrily, George, Esme, Julianna and Cleo