A ‘River of Swifts’ at Tidefest!

Chiswick Swift Project working to stem the decreasing numbers of swifts


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'Swift Numbers'

Image- Jon Perry

This Sunday,( September 2nd) at Strand on the Green, the RSPB and the Chiswick Swift Project are planning to create a big ‘River of Swifts’ collage.

Catherine Day, local resident and RSPB volunteer who runs the Chiswick Swift Project, would like as many people as possible to come along to her Chiswick Swift Project/RSPB marquee and cut out their own paper swift silhouette to add to this Tidefest artwork.

This will symbolize all the swifts that used to be seen above the Thames in summer, doing aerial acrobatics to feed on insects. Local memory says that all the pubs along the river from Hammersmith to Brentford (and certainly beyond in both directions) used to have swifts nesting in their eaves, their super-fast, Red-Arrow-like displays entertaining those seated outside on warm summer evenings.

Today, we have lost about 60% of our swifts in London in the past 20 years alone and the species, worryingly, is now Amber-listed in the UK as a Bird of Conservation Concern.

Nowadays, in contrast, the Thames itself is alive again with aquatic life after environmental clean-ups in recent decades, as other stands, displays and activities at Tidefest will show and celebrate.

Catherine says, “We would like our Tidefest ‘River of Swifts’ to fill up with paper swifts to represent the swifts we could have again to marvel at in May, June and July. These amazing birds are here for just these three short months before they are off to central and southern Africa, not to touch down again until they arrive back home, here, next May.”

There will be coloured paper, pens, pencils and crayons and a variety of swift templates on the Chiswick Swift Project stand for everyone to draw (and decorate if you wish!) their own swift silhouette.

“Please come and add a swift to our scene – the more the merrier!”, Catherine says. “This is for everyone – adults, children families, visitors. And you can name or autograph your own swift, too, if you wish! We’ll also have lots of take-home information about swifts, swift nest boxes (DIY or where to buy, plus real samples to look at), as well as information about the RSPB itself, local RSPB talks, and trips to nature reserves around London and the South East.

"Come and ask your questions about urban wildlife and how to ‘give nature a home’ where you live. But above all, come and and out about swifts and and add your own paper one to our collage!

" If lots of people visit us and we manage to fill our ‘River of Swifts’ with colour and life, we’ll try and find somewhere local to put it on show for a while after Tidefest.”

August 31, 2018

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