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Swifts at Wakefield Waterfront

As is generally known, swift numbers have dramatically declined over the last ten years. One of the main reasons for this is the decline of nesting opportunities. This is being brought about by buildings that were used as nesting sites either being demolished or renovated. .

Wakefield Waterfront was no exception. Large areas were cleared for redevelopment and regeneration. (Areas on the river Calder, Wakefield, very close to the weir, where Doncaster Road (A638) and Barnsley Road (A61) joined to cross both the canal and river).

Some four years ago, members of the Biodiversity group realised that demolition of buildings, and the resulting loss of nesting sites, was affecting swift numbers: the group therefore began an observation period to ascertain which buildings were still being used as nesting sites, and a population was seen using the mill The two stone buildings were being used by the swifts. Enquiries to planning department revealed the order in which the buildings were to be restored. As a first step, contact was made with the design engineers and, when contracts were awarded to William Anelay Ltd, good relations were already in place. Work commenced on 8 January 2007. During the first stages of roof stripping, exclusion bunting was put in place all round the building so birds would not be caught up in the renovation. This worked very well and swifts nested in the remaining building during 2007. Meetings took place in 2007, to decide on the best way forward to install a means for nesting to be able to take place in the future by installing some kind of swift brick. .

When the work had been completed on foundations, repair work to the walls and interior had taken place over twelve months. The design of nest boxes (as can be seen on the photographs) was put forward by William Anelay Ltd’s ecologist. Fifteen boxes have been installed on the building (details as photograph) with the access holes just below the facia board which carries the guttering. .

Without the co- operation of William Anelay Ltd, and their foresight, this kind of project would never have occurred. The nest boxes will be available for use by the swifts in 2009, and we are hoping for a successful conclusion. Monitoring will take place in 2009, and will be ongoing. .

Thanks must go to William Anelay Ltd for all their assistance and support. .

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