Are you interested in protecting your local environment and, contributing to swift conservation? If so, Reigate-based wildlife conservation group Swift Protection Association Reigate (SPARE) might be for you.
Swifts are beautiful birds which fly for nearly all their lives, landing only to breed. They spend most of the year in the skies over Africa, returning to the UK for around 12 weeks each summer to breed. They are primarily urban, commonly nesting in holes in walls and in the small gaps in eaves. Each bird can eat up to 20,000 flying insects a day – many of them harmful or pests.
Swift Protection Association Reigate (SPARE) is a small group of enthusiasts led by Kasia Szczypa, a local Polish-born resident with background in biological sciences. After retiring she has devoted most of her free time to wildlife and bird conservation. She specialises in the recovery and rehabilitation of injured and abandoned young swifts, swallows and martins.
As well as hands-on help, Kasia delivers a range of presentations and talks to schools and organisations in Reigate and beyond on the subject of swifts. The aim of SPARE, and through Kasia’s talks it is hoped that there is a heightened awareness of swifts, an increase in the population of swifts in Reigate, and monitoring of the breeding population of swifts is maintained.
SPARE has carried out annual surveys in the Reigate area where swifts are known to nest. Since 2014, 60 nest sites have been identified on streets where nesting is suspected. These nests are located on 29 houses, and it is estimated on average there are two adult breeding birds and two chicks a nest. The average estimated number of birds in the Reigate area – parents, chicks and immature birds could be as many as 200.
By Jacob White