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Guildford plans to tackles declining swift numbers with 10 metre tower

3 minute read
Guildford plans to tackles declining swift numbers with 10 metre tower

Published at 3:28pm 17th May 2019. (Updated at 9:20am 18th May 2019)

A 10 metre tower could be installed in Shalford to tackle declining numbers of swifts in the area.

It would be put up in the car park and recreation ground on the junction of Kings Road and Chinthurst Lane.

The nesting tower will allow up to 56 pairs of birds to breed and has been designed to look like a piece of artwork.
The repeating vertical elements echo Romanian sculptor Brancusi’s ‘Endless Column’ sculpture which is considered to be one of the great works of the 20th century, according to council papers.

The proposal has also been designed to identify with the local rural vernacular of barns, mills, silos and other rural industry.

The sequence of shapes is also related to organic forms like seed pods and ears of wheat. The proposed materials would include cedar shingle for the external cladding and a powder coated metal pole in a neutral colour.

Shalford has a small population of swifts, according to a report to be presented to councillors on GBC planning panel at its meeting on Wednesday, June 22.

Swift Nesting Tower.

They are most noticeable during summer months and are the fastest bird in level flight and the longest migratory flight of any bird species, say council officers.

But as a species they are massively in decline with RSPB figures showing a 53% decrease in breeding numbers in the UK between 1995 and 2016.

The charity says this is partly down to a loss of nest sites and has now put swifts on a conservation rating status as an amber listed species.

The papers prepared for planning approval for the nesting tower state:

“The loss of nest sites is partly responsible for this decline, the birds return to the same spot each year to breed and with the tendency to seal up buildings during renovation or knock them down their nesting places are being destroyed and therefore they return to find their nest site is gone or access is blocked and they will then not nest again.”

The proposed tower would provide a secure and long-lasting nesting space for the swifts.

Swifts are often confused with swallows and martins. They are dark, sooty brown all over, but often look black against the sky.

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