For the latest local swift news, and more, please now visit our social media pages.

21st June 2024 - 25 swift bricks installed in Battle housing development. An event to celebrate Southern Housing's installation of purpose made bricks at the St. Martin's Independent Living Scheme in Battle, to help boost the local swift population, was held on the 18th June. Another great swift initiative kick started by our group! Read more


29th - 31st May 2024 - 7th International Swift Conference from Trieste, Italy. For those of you who use Facebook and would like to follow the fascinating information presented by various speakers go to: All Things Swift UK | Facebook.  Graeme Bowd's report is a great read!  Also try Trieste Swift Conference website.

11th May 2024 - World Migratory Bird Day - and the theme this year is 'insects'; celebrating the incredibly important relationship between them and some of our best loved birds. Read more.

Swift with bolus pouch

5th May - Tweet of the Day, BBC - Ornithologist and nature write, Stephen Moss, welcomes the return of the swifts in May. Listen here.

May 2024 - They're back!! Reports have been coming in during the first week of early swift arrivals. On the 1st they were spotted in Hastings Old Town; on the 7th in Bexhill and then St. Leonards on Sea; and on the 8th they were seen flying in Salehurst and Battle.  There were reports of over 30,000 arriving in the south of France during the same week, so we are expecting the local numbers to increase by the weekend of 11th/12th.

April to 23rd July 2024 - Rother's Draft Local Plan Consultation - There's still time to add your comments online or at various local meetings. View the plan here. Pages 386 and 392-393 refer to swift bricks. Can the wording be more specific? Your chance to comment!

30th April - Fury as No.10 blocks efforts to help save swifts - An article in the Independent digs into reports that the Tories have vetoed a popular campaign to change the law to create nest-brick homes for swifts. Commentators were furious, slamming the decision as disgraceful and shameful. Read more...

March 2024 - Boxed Soffits & Fascia continue to decimate swift colonies. UPVC Boxed Soffits and Fascia have been the death nell for possibly thousands of colonies of swifts and other cavity nesting species in the UK. It's no coincidence that all the birds that traditionally nest in our eaves and crevices are on the Red List of endangered species - starlings, house sparrows, house martins and of course - swifts. Huge numbers of open eaved homes are refurbished by councils and home owners, and exhausted swifts returning from their treacherous migration find the nests they have used for many decades are blocked ... forever. Witnessing pairs trying to enter their nests for weeks is heartbreaking; many break their wings and die. BUT - it doesn't have to be this way! Read more of this important article from Sheffield Swift Network and some super simple solutions!

Soffit adaptation

February 2024 - 'The Feather Speech' - Initiated by author and activist Hannah Bourne-Taylor in 2022, is a national conservation campaign for swifts and other cavity nesting birds, supported by the RSPB and Rewriting Extinction. Over 100,000 people signed the petition to make swift bricks compulsory in new housing to help red-listed birds. Hannah's willingness to appear in public wearing only painted feathers or swift designs brought invitations to speak in many radio shows and TV news channels and also drew support from MPs such as Zac Goldsmith in Parliament. See the Independent's news article here.

Feather campaign

11th November - Swifts Local Network, National Conference in Oxford - Oxford Swift City kindly hosted a meeting of the Swift Local Network with a hundred representatives coming from across the UK to share their knowledge of this critically endangered species, as well as ideas on how to increase awareness and practical ways to help swifts.  Our thanks to West Oxford Community Centre who provided a great venue for us and our many valued speakers and contributors.


21st September - BBC News - UK Migratory birds 'in freefall' over climate change. Dr Dave Leech said the birds are struggling to make it back over the Sahara because climate change means there's less food for them to fuel up with before they make the crossing, and that their numbers were in "free fall". Read the full article here.

26th July - It seems that many of the non-breeding swifts have been leaving the UK this week. Portland Bill in Dorset has reported seeing them leave "in some quantity".  In our own area, swift sightings have been much reduced. Frown  ... and recent weather has been miserable.  Cool, wet and windy.  

22nd July - Cllr. Tony Collins, Green Party, with our Chairman Ian Donovan.  The motion becomes law upon the updating of the Hastings Local Plan.  Cllr. Collins is trying to ascertain when this renewal is due.  Mike Priaulx of Swifts Local Network advises that Brighton & Hove Council are the council to copy for similar action (which is what H&RSCG did) as they have had a policy in force since June 2020, with detailed guidance for all types of development.


19th July - Brilliant News!! On the 19th July, Hastings Borough Council voted unanimously to mandate swift bricks in all new builds after a motion was brought forward by Cllr Tony Collins (Green) working in conjunction with Hastings & Rother Swift Conservation Group. 

pic of HBC decision to mandate bricks

15th July - 7pm - Hastings Swift Walk - Well, they didn't, but we did. A few hardy souls joined Ian and Sophie on an informative 'swift walk' around Hastings Old Town nesting sites. Unfortunately, summer evening swift activity was much reduced due to the inclement weather, with gale force winds.

Swift Awareness Week - 1st to 9th July.  This year we are supporting Feathers Wild Bird Care of Salehurst, East Sussex. Probably the best stocked bird shop in England in a beautiful setting!  Feathers are focusing on swifts all week and we are providing leaflets, a caller and three copies of the fantastic little book, "Screamer the Swift" by John Miles, as raffle prizes. Cheryl Mason of High Weald group is giving a talk "Support Local Bio-diversity, Support our Swifts" on Wednesday evening. Booking only, as numbers are restricted. Visit the shop in the tiny picturesque village of Salehurst for all your birding requirements. Fantastic quality bird food, feeders, nest boxes and other equipment, at great prices. The Nature Area outside the shop gives you the chance to see their garden birds feeding just feet away while also creating a golden opportunity to photograph the birds on many of the natural perches. The highlight at this time of year are great views of the several pairs of swifts zooming around who have been returning to nest in the church tower opposite the shop for many years. Oh, and there's a new little coffee shop just opened up on the same site, where you can sit and watch them!  Do pop in to support Ruth and Leon in their new venture when visiting Feathers.

Feathers external

Awareness_Week_logo.jpg Feathers shop

Feathers external side

coffee shop 

29th June - Hooray!! This week we have seen prospectors around the swift bricks installed last year at the top of the Battle Library Tower. We hope they are brave enough to claim their new nest site soon.  

23rd June - After a cold May, June is set to break records with fine weather and high temperatures. Good swift activity is being reported from most places. If you are just discovering the amazing life of swifts, take a look at this great article by Alexander Burton-Hargreaves on our iconic summer visitor. Packed full of wonderful information and facts, some lovely photos and also links to some incredible video footage! The Swift and its Fleeting Visit to our Isles.

31st May - Unusual weather means a stubborn blocking pattern has us locked into a stiff, cold, north easterly wind - even though it's dry and occasionally sunny - whilst southern Europe has rain and storms. Some swifts made it back before this weather pattern set in, others are possibly held up.  The Swift Diary from Oxford University Museum of Natural History reports that the swifts who have returned to their tower nests are quiet and hunkered down, with pairs on the eastern side snuggled together, whilst those on the more sheltered western side often have just one bird on the nest.  Interesting reading!

13th May - The caller at Battle Library has been switched on today. 

May 2023 - They're back!!  The weather hasn't been great, but our swifts are gradually returning. Established 'nesters' are the first to return with the male a few days ahead of his mate.  Let's hope the weather warms up now and the skies quickly return to their screaming best!! 

December 2022 - Mandatory Swift Brick Petition Video - The Sheffield Swift Network's petition to Sheffield Council. Great information for any home owner, builder, or property maintenance company about the advantages of fitting permanent swift nest bricks. Swift bricks provide a mechanism for building nesting accommodation for swifts into brickwork. They are available from a range of suppliers, including from Action for Swifts, and can be embedded into walls below the eaves. Click here to view the video.

Swifts in swiftbrick


15th October - The Hastings Observer Building - Top scaffolding removed to reveal new cladding on old lift tower and the 14 swift bricks in situ. Funded by Swift Conservation. Swift bricks supplied by Action for Swifts. Initial liaison by Hastings and Rother Swift Conservation Group. With special thanks to Julia Hilton for setting up the first point of contact. Thanks also to Pedro, Project Manager's Office, for his assistance. Actual swift brick design used in this project shown below. 

photo of top of lift tower with entrance holes to 14 swift bricks visible image of actual swift brick type used in OB building 

25th September - The Hastings Observer Building to get swift boxes in brave new project. Originally occupied by the print works and editorial offices of The Hastings & St.Leonards Observer, it has lain half derelict for 35 years, but now it is being restored as a mixture of all kinds of workspaces, hospitality venues and affordable housing for the many people needing such premises within Hastings. A brilliant and exciting project it will become a vibrant hub for Hastings town centre and a beacon of community-led regeneration (see more) .... AND - it will have swift nest bricks built into the walls of the old lift tower, the highest part of the building that you can see going up Cambridge Road beside the right hand facade of the building. We have been working with Swift Conservation, who offered to pay for the swift bricks using the donations that they have received over the past year, and Action for Swifts. 



7th August - If you are requesting swift bricks or boxes please email us at with your name, full address, confirmation you're the homeowner and mobile number. We don't take requests other than through this process! Thank you for your continual support! Hastings & Rother Swift Conservation Group.

26th July - Today we removed the swift display in Battle library, that has been in situ for 3 months - generating a lot of interest.  This week we shall be drawing the competition we were running for children to win a copy of the book 'Screamer the Swift'.  Although an initial inspection of entries revealed that most had the question of colour of swift eggs wrong, which was rather perplexing.  The entry forms did direct children to our own website where the answer could have been found.  We believe that the errors could have occurred if children chose to use the internet for images of the eggs, where more than a cursory glance is required to ensure images actually relate to the common swift - Apus Apus.  It seems most competition entries gave the colour of egg of a Greater Crested Tern (also known as a Swift Tern) - which is a tropical/sub tropical sea bird.  Unfortunately, it is often the first image to pop up on a search!  The winners names will be posted here in August and a notice also put up in Battle Library reception.

24th & 25th July - It seems the great migration south is under way.  At Gibraltar Point Bird Observatory in Lincolnshire, up to 5000 swifts an hour have been counted passing overhead. You can read their blog here.  Our generally hot, sunny summer has been beneficial for swifts, with Oxford Museum of Natural History reporting in their diary for the 25th July that their colony in the tower have had their most prolific breeding season in 20 years.  Hooray!!

17th July - The extreme heatwave continues and with the hottest temperatures forecast for 18th and 19th July expected to be the highest ever recorded in this country, we are fearing that some swiftlets may simply jump from their nests to escape the heat. Swift first aid measures are being posted on social media and also sent to vet surgeries. We are suggesting casualties are taken to Folly Wildlife Rescue, as we have Avian Flu restrictions in the Hastings area.  More information is on our social media. But here are some tips:


5th July - On Tuesday afternoon we were delighted to welcome Year 3 from Battle and Langton School to a talk at Battle Library to learn all about swifts.  The children asked loads of questions and were totally engaged in the talk - especially when we all got on the floor and pretended to be young swifts in the nest, doing press-ups to strengthen our wings for fledging and flying off to Africa!

11th June - We are in advanced talks with IF_DO Architecture and Design, Action for Swifts and Swift Conservation about the installation of 18 swift bricks into the lift shaft of the new Observer Building development in Hastings.  IF_DO have told us the owners are super excited!  So are we!!  Watch this space!



June - In June the four year old first time breeders arrive after four years of flying, travelling, playing, courting and prospecting.  They will be looking for nesting opportunities, either in holes in eaves, swift boxes or bricks.  Swifts will play, feed and scream above established nest sites.  July brings the juveniles, the one to three year olds - then we are at peak swift time and the screaming really begins!  Eyes to the skies!!


9th May - Monday - Joy!! - The swifts return!!  Reports came in that swifts had been spotted returning to their traditional nesting sites in Battle, Hastings Old Town, Bexhill and many other areas.  Nationwide synchronicity it seems!!  Possibly a few days late as weather systems that affect flying insect populations had been holding the swifts back, but high numbers of swifts had been seen crossing the coast in southern France on Saturday the 7th May and so we knew they were on their way!  The males return first to take possession of their nests, followed by the females a few days later.  Within two weeks mating takes place and eggs should be laid around the end of May.

7th May - Swift caller installed and running at Battle Library Clock Tower today.  Everything set up .... all we need now are the swifts!!

 7.5.22 Battle Library clock tower swift caller installed     Battle Library Clock Tower close up

30th April - Today we've been installing a special Swift display at Battle Library that will run from May through to the end of July.  Packed full of information and interesting Swift facts, together with some tactile exhibits, we aim to raise awareness of this iconic summer visitor and the decline in their UK breeding population.  Battle Library is now the fourth library in the country to have installed swift nest bricks - so we are  eagerly awaiting their discovery by the Battle swifts!  Children can also enter a special competition to win a signed copy of the fabulous book, 'Screamer the Swift', kindly provided by the author, John Miles.

 Library swift display close-up Battle library display table crop

7th February - Finally, after collaboration within our group, we have decided on our new logo - which needed to have the 'strap' line tweaked. Thank you to all those who contributed with suggestions and comments.  Your enthusiasm is much appreciated!

New H&RSCG logo 7.2.22

26th January - Where are they now? After another week snatching peatland midges 'Bird Run' reckon the swifts are about here somewhere above the central congo forest swamplands.

Swift Migration map by Bird Run

BIRD RUN is the unique prize competition raising money for wildlife by capturing the drama of the swifts' amazing migration journey. They have a fab website. Check it out by clicking here.

22nd January - We're off to Battle Library today to meet with staff and assess the work we need to do installing the swift caller ahead of the birds' return in early May.

December 2021 - Swift moves to UK Red List for conservation.  The number of swifts in the UK has fallen with over half of the UK population (58%) disappearing from our skies in the last 25 years. Threats like climate change, habitat loss, changes to farming, pollution and poor food availability are having a devastating effect on our wildlife. Yet for some species, like the swift, providing nesting sites near where you live could really help too. Learn more about how you can help swifts to recover here.

26th September - Swift bricks supplied to new development in Westfield. Action for Swifts have provided 12 bespoke Swift Bricks for a new development in Westfield, East Sussex. They will be installed behind white cladding on the north and south apexes of a new building. Further details coming.  Watch this space!!

15th August - We need more volunteers to share our group's work. You can join us officially to partake in: nest box making / nest box and swift brick installations / surveying / helping with our awareness raising stall / campaigning for provision for swifts on our local patch. Please use our Contact form and let us know what skills you have that you feel may be helpful. We look forward to hearing from you!!

15th August - We shall restart our nest box provision and installation service as from September 2021, so if you have requested swift boxes, rest assured, we're slowly working our way around to you!

14th August - Wondering where all the swifts have gone? Here are 18,000 of them streaming south over the Swiss Alps!! Click here to watch.

10th August - Swifts on ITV this week!  - "Communities in the east of England are on a mission to save the swifts".  Watch the report here.

9th August - Building alterations this autumn/winter?  Have you considered something more permanent than swift boxes?  'S' Bricks are mainly aimed at new build, but are also perfect for retro fitting. Attractive and unobtrusive, they are compatible with most UK brick sizes, come in a range of colours and occupy a single brick space. They weigh just 1kg and are competitively priced. For lots more information and tailor made options click here.

S Brick in cavity wall swift bricks gable end

6th August - Today we have added a Swift Survey Form to our website. Please help us to protect our local swifts by recording your sightings of screaming parties and any nest sites you have identified. 

August - Follow us on Facebook and Twitter for all the latest news on our local swifts' activities!  If you would like copies of our colourful posters/leaflets to help raise awareness of the plight of our local swifts, please let us know!  Contact us here.

3rd to 11lth July is Swift Awareness Week - Visit our Facebook and Twitter pages which will have all the latest information on what we and other groups are doing.

swifts against part cloudy sky art image

19th June - 2pm, The Plough, Crowhurst. At last!! A Hastings and Rother Swift Conservation Group social meet-up.

The Plough pub

13th June - Chris Packham, from BBC's Springwatch programme, has hailed the "astonishing achievement" of John Stimpson (designer of the Model 30 Swift Nest Box, made and used by us) who has made more than 27,000 nest boxes, saying, "the number of swift boxes made by Mr. Stimpson is a magnificent contribution to UK conservation".  Read the full story here.

John Stimpson Chris Packham


22nd MayHundreds of swifts seen early morning over RSPB Dungeness and at Rye Harbour !!

18th May - 'Securing a Swift Return' - article in todays Guardian by Sarah Gibson. 'How a simple brick can help migratory birds'. Many swifts flying back to Britain will find their summer nests lost to building renovations. But bird bricks are offering them an alternative home .... read more.  You can even retrofit swiftbricks/birdbricks to your home!! Contact us to find out more.

Swift leaving swiftbrick 

10th May - At Last!! More and more reports coming in of swifts arriving!!  Evidently hundreds of swifts, swallows and house martins crossed the Channel on Saturday. Our members are reporting 'their own' swifts arriving back with great relief and excitement, as the winds finally turn to a more helpful southerly direction after weeks of the northern arctic blasts.

28th April - BBC Radio 4 - This morning on Tweet of the Day, Bill Oddie presented the Alpine Swift - which is not as 'alpine' as it name would suggest! Click on the image to listen.

Alpine Swift

21st April - Battle Library. Today 12 specially designed Swift Bricks were installed in the Clock Tower of this charismatic building at the north end of Battle High Street. What a perfect site for the local swifts!! You can read more about this exciting new project for the town on our dedicated page: Battle's Special Project

Battle Library

April 2021 - Hastings Observer Building to get swift bricks in brave new project! The Observer building in Hastings has lain half derelict for over 30 years. But now it is to be restored as a mixture of workshops, small businesses and affordable housing for the many people needing such premises within Hastings. A brilliant and exciting project that will not only build up the economy of Hastings, but keep fresh and positive the town's Bohemian charms and ensure its streets and buildings are very much alive. AND ... it will have swift nest bricks built into the walls of the highest part of the building, the old lift tower. Swift Conservation have offered to pay for the bricks using donations it has received over the past year. Edward Mayer (Swift Conservation) and Dick Newell (Action for Swifts) are working with the architects and building contractors to bring this project to life!  We'll add more news as it becomes available!

Old Hastings Observer building

15th April - Broadstairs College Swift Conservation Project featured on BBC South East Today news. Kent's first artificial swift colony. Watch the news item - click: here

Broadstairs College colony 

12th April - Ian, our Founder and Chair says, "Apologies to those waiting for house assessments and nest box installations - we are working our way round to you. It's very busy!"

April - Swifts, Swallows and House Martins are all aerial insect eating migrants and are starting to arrive in the UK now. Here is a short video by Simon Hooton of Save Our Suffolk Swifts, explaining their identifying features.  Click here to view. (Note: first short video is about nest boxes, the one below is about bird identification)

Swift Swallow HM identifier

March - New Book - 'Swifts and Us - The Life of the Bird that Sleeps in the Sky', by Sarah Gibson. Due out on 13th May and available to pre-order hereSwifts live almost entirely in the air. These endangered summer visitors eat, drink, sleep, mate and gather their nesting materials on the wing, fly thousands of miles across the world, navigating their way around storms, never lighting on tree, cliff or ground, until they return home with the summer. Thankfully, there are people in the UK and across Europe striving to ensure a future for swifts. Their actions and stories are woven into the narrative, demonstrating how change is brought about by passionate, determined individuals, whose actions show that everyone can do something to keep these superb birds screaming through our skies.

Swifts and Us book

17th March 2021 - Abstract Wildlife Artist, Alison Ingram, informs us of the launch of her new packs of blank greeting cards (5's or 10's). Proceeds from the swift cards go towards funding care for young swifts, swallows and house martins that are hand reared by Alison each summer. Click on this link: Swift Cards - Assorted for more information and to buy.

 Alison Ingram - Swiftlets     Alison Ingram - Swifts & Swallows

14th to 21st February is National Nest Box Week and to celebrate it, we are launching this ... our new website!!

4th February 2021 - as we look forward to spring and the return of the swifts, there seem to be a lot of swift webinars popping up around the country and locally. Visit our Twitter feed to find out more and get the links!

REVIEW OF 2020 by Ian Donovan, Chair & Founder of Hastings & Rother Swift Conservation Group - and as included in Sussex Ornithological Society's summary document of 'Swift Conservation in Sussex 2020', published by their Swift Champion, David Campbell. 

It has been a successful year for Hastings & Rother Swift Conservation Group, despite the pandemic. A fledgling group of volunteers formed in the autumn of 2019 and held their first awareness-raising evening at a sold-out Battle Memorial Hall in February. SOS advocates Audrey Wende, David Campbell and Richard Cowser attended.

The group's initial plan had been to concentrate on Battle in 2020 but, due to the pandemic, these plans were temporarily scuppered. As restrictions eased, nest box installations were requested and were fulfilled, primarily in Hastings Old Town, Hastings and St.Leonard's on Sea. To date, the group have installed 22 boxes in these areas. Swift call systems are also provided and installed where required.

The group’s most satisfying work of 2020 involved a listed building in Hastings, where a group member noticed swifts entering the eaves. A week later, scaffolding went up. Alarm bells! Ian Donovan negotiated with the owner and project manager leading to a solution to work around the nesting colony. The group are confident three pairs of swifts successfully fledged young and the nest site has been left undisturbed for swifts to use into the future, after completion of the building work.

Requests keep coming for nest boxes and the group aim to install as many as possible before May 2021, when they hope to give more time to surveying traditional nest sites across the wider Rother area.

The group has built an engaging website encouraging local people to join them and offering to provide and install swift nest boxes.

The Group had a 5-minute slot on BBC Radio Sussex during Swift Awareness Week. 

(Artwork courtesy of Jonathan Pomroy

Our AGM on Wednesday 9th December took place via Google Meet.

Christmas or 'anytime' pressies - A range of clothing for men and women with beautiful swift designs, from Sussex Wildlife Trust.  

28th November - Nine Model 30's ready for installation next week. Just the nest cups to come now from our local wood turner!

19th September - We spoke to Tim of Allison Developments this week (who has been working on a large job in Hastings) and part completed work on the roof now the swifts have gone. He had found three nests and left them undisturbed. He also left access for them into the future. Much gratitude!!

A shout out too, to Keith Hunt Scaffolding, Mayfield. Tony at Keith Hunt Scaffolding worked with us in ensuring the swifts at this summers redevelopment in Hastings had sufficient access. Positive dialogue with the construction industry is essential! Thanks guys!!

18th-23rd August - The amazing Virtual Birdfair took place and included three swift specific talks.

19th August - Well, it all seems to be over for another year.  Bird enthusiasts in Gibraltar report a constant flow of common swifts day and night heading south through The Straits.  View tweet & video. Some of the birds we've enjoyed watching this summer may be in Africa already.  

12th July - Heartwarming news update from East Sussex WRAS! (Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service)

"Our first juvenile swift who came in on 25th June after falling from his nest, was released this morning and went off perfectly. Our other remaining 7 swifts are all doing well and wont be long before some of those are ready to go too".

Swift Rescue 2020

4th July - There is an enhanced risk of swift chicks falling from nest sites now, so if you notice such an occurrence, please follow the advice on our 'How You Can Help' page, by clicking here.

27th June to 5th July - SWIFT AWARENESS WEEK - An opportunity to help reverse the decline of this remarkable summer visitor by celebrating the 3rd year that UK Swifts have a week dedicated to their survival. On the 5th we had an interview on BBC Radio Sussex's Joe Talbot Show as part of our activities for this years Swift Awareness Week. We also launched our new logo, designed by Jonathan Pomroy, wildlife and landscape artist and author of the book 'On Crescent Wings' - A portrait of the swift.

Our logo

7th June - World Swift Day - A message from Dr. Jane Goodall, Patron of World Swift Day. Here is her enthusiastic and passionate video message for this occasion. She tells us why these birds are so amazing, why they are threatened and what we can do for them.  Video. 

9th May - Ian, our founder, says, "Popped by to see the Battle swifts on my way home last night.  They're back in numbers.  More resolute then ever to protect and enhance them".

Several swifts flying overhead against  blue sky