November 2022

The decline in Swift numbers since 1995, which led to them being included on the red list of birds of conservation concern, is usually attributed to: a lack of suitable nesting sites, the fall in the population of insects, and extreme weather conditions caused by climate change. This report by BTO, British Trust fro Ornithology), hopes to improve our understanding of Swift decline by bringing together the information collected by bird ringers and nest recorders alongside data on insect availability and weather.

Demography of Common Swifts, Apus apus

Swift BTO


There has been an usual number of reports of Pallid Swifts, Apus pallidus, across the country. A grounded Pallid Swift was found in Newhaven at the end of October and taken to East Sussex Wildlife Rescue and Ambulance Service for care. Pallid Swifts are very similar to Common Swifts but a lighter brown with less white under the chin - but very difficult to distinguish from each other in flight!

Unprecedented Pallid Swift influx

Pallid Swift 2

October 2022

We had an extended Swift season this year, with the last Swifts returning to their nests in St. Anne's Church up until 6th September! This is one month later than usual, and most of the Swifts had started their migration from Lewes at the end of July.

Since the end of Swift season, we have been busy installing nest boxes. Since 2020, we have now helped Lewes residents to install 92 single boxes, 36 double boxes and one triple nest box. This makes a total of 167 potential nest spaces available to breeding Swifts!

nest box WPR    SWIFT BOX  


Some of the Peak Swift boxes we have installed recently.

August 27th

Audrey and Nick recorded nest entry or exit at nests 1 and 5 at St. Anne's Church again last night. This seems so unusual to us because the latest observed nest entries in previous years were 25th July, (2019), 29th July, (2020) and 6th August, (2021). The photograph below shows a Swift about to enter nest 5 at 7.34 p.m. last night.

St. A 26.8.22

August 25th

To our continual surprise, we are still seeing entries to two of the nests at St. Anne's Church in Western Road! Last night, Audrey and Nick saw a group of three Swifts circling above the church and one entered nest 1 at 7.56 p.m. Later, after one failed attempt, another Swift flew straight into nest 5. As far as we know, these are the only remaining active nests in Lewes - out of the 79 which surveyors have recorded this year.

St. Anne's West 24.8

August 17th

Most of our Swifts have, as expected, begun their long journey back to Africa. However, to our surprise, our surveyors have continued to record nest entries and exits well into the second week of August! Kevin saw nest entries to St. Swithun's Lane and St. Martin's Lane up until the 14th August and Audrey and Nick saw entries and exits in upper Western Road until 13th August. Amazingly, they have also seen entries to two of the nests at St. Anne's Church up until last night, 16th August. This is 13 days later than any nest activity noted at these sites in previous years!


St. Anne's Evening

                                                            Evening at St. Anne's Church

August 8th

This morning Nick Jarvis installed two more Swift nest boxes on houses in De Montfort Road, using the scaffolding that was already in place. 

  DMR installation    DMR installation 2   DMR installation 3

While he was installing the first box, two Swifts flew overhead! Then, when he was installing the second one another Swift flew by. We take this as a good omen!

This means that LSS have now installed 82 single nest boxes, 32 double nest boxes and one triple box - 149 potential nest spaces for our Swifts! Through grant funding and some generous donations from residents, we have been able to fund the purchase and installation of 37 of these boxes in the Swift "hot spots" so that we might help to expand existing colonies.

August 3rd

The skies became even quieter as we moved into August but we are still observing some Swifts returning to their nests at dusk. Kevin has seen entries to nests in St. Martin's Lane and at the top of St. Swithun's Terrace, and heard calling from under the eaves of the paint shop in Station Street.

Last night, Audrey and Nick recorded five entries and three exits to the nests in upper Western Road. They captured one of the Swifts entering nest 1 on this short video.

Nest entry in Western Road

Audrey and Nick have seen one, and often two, Swifts entering this particular nest on 48 different evenings, from 11th May to 2nd August.

July 30th

All of a sudden the skies have changed! During the day we scarcely saw any Swifts in their usual haunts around the town and on our survey last night we only saw a few smaller groups of up to four Swifts circling the colonies and one pair and one single Swift entering nests in upper Western Road. Any entries we have seen over the past few days have been much earlier, from 8.45 p.m. to 9.05 p.m., and even then it is very dark. This photograph of the nest entrances in upper Western Road show the tiny gaps between the wall and the soffit  that the Swifts manage to find so precisely at such high speeds!

Nest entrances in upper Western Road

July 23rd

With another nest under the eaves of a house in The Avenue confirmed by Steve and Mary, our 2022 total is now 79 nests in Lewes.

We have seen large groups of up to 40-50 Swifts over circling Lewes in the past few days! These are likely to be young non-breeding Swifts. According to the books, they scream past nest entrances to encourage the fledgling Swifts to fly out and join them on the journey back to Africa! 

All our Swifts have not left us yet though, for example, we saw four returns nests at St. Anne's Church and in upper Western Road last night. However, our nest cam in the nest at King Henry's Road appears to show that the Swifts have fledged. The nest cam records any activity every two minutes and the last photograph which shows a Swift, (or part of one), is timed at 12.35 on 21st July. Earlier in the morning at 4.26 a.m. two Swifts were clearly visible, then there appeared to be a lot of activity and flexing of wings before the last shot of a Swift disappearing into the open air!

     2 Swifts at 4.26               last Swift 12.35 pm

            Last sighting of two Swifts at 4.36 a.m.                               Last sighting of Swift at 12.25 p.m.

July 18 h

Kevin has confirmed an eighth nest entrance above the paint shop in Station Street, Lewes. This brings our total for 2022 up to 78 active nests, two more than in 2021!

8 nests at paint shop

July 15th

Definite proof of an active nest box in De Montfort Road for Nick and Audrey last night - a Swift sitting at the entrance and peering out at them!

Nest box 24

July 13th

Emma has confirmed another active Swift nest in Malling and there is news of a nest in Prince Edward's Road. In a chance encounter yesterday with a painter friend who has been working on one of the houses there for 5 weeks, Audrey and Nick learned of a Swift nest in a hole under the apex of the gable end at the rear of the house. The owner was pleased to be able to show it to us and feels very honoured! This underlines the benefits of Swift Watchers - this site would never have been seen by the Wallands surveyors! 

These two new nests brings our 2022 total to 77, which is one more than the final number at the end of last season! 

You might like to read this fantastic article about Swifts from RSPB - it is full of fascinating facts!:

 Swifts, the Best Bird

 July 10th

It is the last day of Swift Awareness Week 2022 and we have really enjoyed meeting everyone during our three Swift Walks around Lewes. Kevin led the third walk on Saturday 9th July and eventually the Swifts returned to their nests so that everyone could see a nest entry!

Swift walk 3            Swift walk 3 2

July 9th

Last night Kevin recorded two new nest entrances in Abinger Place, a ninth one at The Maltings, and a new one in St. Martin's Lane. The same evening, Audrey and Nick recorded a ninth nest entrance site in upper Western Road - and this morning they confirmed the position of the third nest in Valence Road. This brings our total to 74 active nests, (or 74 different nest entrances, since we cannot see what is happening inside!).

Kevin has edited this short video showing one of the parent Swifts in the nest at King Henry's Road with the two chicks: Parent Swift and two chicks

Debs has shared some fantastic views of the Swifts that she sees regularly from her balcony at the rear of the High Street, behind Cote - and she has an active nest too!

High Street Swifts

July 7th 

Audrey and Nick led the second Swift Walk around Lewes last night - to celebrate Swift Awareness Week. To start with, they saw some Swifts flying around above the colonies at the rear of the Flea Market, Market Lane and The Maltings. When they were watching the colony at the top of St. Swithun's Terrace excitement built up! They saw screaming fly-past of up to 8 Swifts and exits from two of the nests.

At the end of the evening they were entertained for over 30 minutes at the junction of Spital Road and Western Road with 3 groups of 4 screaming Swifts tearing past the eaves of the colony of 8 nests. They had seen seven nest entries by the time it was dark. A very satisfying night and great to be able to share the sights with so many interested people.

Swift Walk 2 1   Swift Walk 2 2   Swift Walk 2 4

Meanwhile, Kevin took a walk around Southover and found that the Swifts were very active there - he saw up to 26 Swifts in the air! He also recorded three new nests in Potter's Lane - which brings our 2022 total to 67 nests!

July 5th

We have reports of larger groups of screaming Swifts around the top end of town on the last two evenings and this morning. Audrey and Nick have seen up 14 swifts screaming and diving around the junction of Western Road and Spital Road, where there is a colony of 8 nests, and around St. Anne's Church. Supporters and Western Road residents, Danny, Maria and Emma, all reported 10-11 screaming around the top of Western Road this morning from 7.30 to 10.00 a.m. They all have nest boxes so that must be exciting - these could be younger Swifts looking for a nest space for next year!

Kevin has kept up his log to compare numbers of active nests year by year since we started in 2019. It shows that, despite the apparent lack of Swifts on several days this season, 2022 is comparing well with previous years in Lewes.

 graph 2022 5.7.22

July 2nd

Last night Mike led the first of our three Swift Walks around some of the colonies in Lewes - to celebrate Swift Awareness Week, 2nd July to 10th July.

  Swift Walk 1             Swift Walk display


During the Swift Walk, members were able to see entries to nests at the rear of the Flea Market and in upper Western Road. One of the nest entries at the Flea Market was a new one - bringing our 2022 total to 62 nests.

Meanwhile, in King Henry's Road, Sharon has reset the nest cam so it works again - and discovered that there are two fledgling chicks in there! Have a look at them on this video: Swift cam 4th July 2022

June 27th

Thank you to Year 5 students, (and their teachers!), at Western Road Primary School, Lewes, for their exhibition about endangered species at Depot on Sunday 26th June as part of the Youth Justice Festival. The children produced marvellous art work and made speeches to highlight the need to help Swifts! 

WR Swifts 1 

You can listen to the speech made by the Year 5 children of Western Road here: Swift speech 

The number of active nests now recorded in Lewes in 2022 is now up to 56 with three more being found at the rear of the Flea Market, see marked photograph below. You can view these nest entrances from the car park behind the Flea Market.

Flea Market 2022

June 22nd

The number of active nests in Lewes for 2022 has now reached 53! Despite many dedicated hours of Swift surveys, we feel there may be more to discover because in 2021 we had a total of 76 nests by the end of the season. You just have to be in the right place at the right time - so keep your Swift Watch reports coming in!

Here is a beautiful photograph of a Swift, taken by Robert Booth.

Robert Booth Swift

June 19th

On some of the calm, hot, dry days over the past week we have received Swift watch reports of screaming parties of up to 30 Swifts flying low above Lewes, especially in Southover High Street and Western Road! Our total for Lewes town is now 50 active nests! The latest records include one nest confirmed at Anne of Cleves' House, a sixth nest at The Maltings, one in Lambert Place, Malling, and a seventh nest in upper Western Road. The photograph below shows a Swift entering a nest at Anne of Cleves' House, taken by Douglas Dodds in 2021.

Anne of Cleves Swift DD 2021

June 15th

The total number of active nests recorded this year is now up to 45, with 3 more above the paint shop in Station Street and one more in the High Street. 

paint shop

The paint shop in Station Street

The graph below shows that we are in step with the number of nests recorded by 14th June in previous years:

graph 14 6

June 12th

We suspect that the so-called "second wave" of younger Swifts, looking to breed for the first time, has begun to arrive in Lewes at last! Last night we saw larger groups of birds, a return of the screaming fly-pasts and several records of banging at the wall close to the eaves, especially in upper Western Road. In addition, a fifth nest at The Maltings means that our total is up to 40 nests now! See the marked photograph from Kevin, below:

Maltings 5

June 11th

With another nest discovered at The Maltings, and the nest confirmed at Westfield House, St Anne's Crescent, we now have a total of 39 active nests for 2022. Levels of activity have seemed low and there have been fewer records of screaming parties over the past few days. This is partly because of the changeable weather conditions which mean that "our Swifts" will go further afield to hunt for insects and partly because, in many of the nests recorded from the first weeks of May, the Swifts will be quietly incubating their eggs!

Here is a beautiful photograph shared by Wigan Swifts group of a Swift entering the nest with some nesting material.

Swift w nest material


June 7th - World Swift Day!

Happy World Swift Day everyone! Thank you to everyone, everywhere, who is working to protect these wonderful birds, whether putting up a nest box, growing wildflowers or trees to help increase numbers of insects and invertebrates, building a pond, or stopping using pesticides! Don't forget to spread the word about Swifts so that more people become aware of their endangered status and find out just how marvellous they are!

Swift 7.6


June 5th - a nest box entry!

One of our supporters contacted us last night with his Swift Watch reports - including an entry to the Swift nest box which we installed for him in March 2022! See a picture of the nest box below.

This brings our 2022 total to 38 active nests!

49 The Avenue


May 25th - 34 nests and an egg!

Another nest in upper Western Road - bringing the total on that one terraced house to six nests! Mike has confirmed the first active nest of 2022 at the rear of the Flea Market too, which makes our total 34 so far.  Meanwhile, in King Henry's Road, our nest cam appears to reveal a Swift's egg! Here's a screen shot from Kevin:

swift egg

May 23rd - now 32 active nests!

Two more nests at St. Anne's Church, two more in upper Western Road, two new nests in Valence Road and one more at the rear of the High Street, (at the top of St. Swithun's Lane), and another extra one at The Maltings brings our total for 2022 to 32 active nests! We still believe that all of the mature breeders have not yet returned to Lewes - but in the past few days we have begun to see screaming parties of up to 21 Swifts!

We have another new nest box in De Montfort Road! On Monday Nick Jarvis used the scaffolding to install a single Peak box for the resident. If you ever need scaffolding around your home, that is an ideal times to install boxes!


May 17th update and video

Last night Audrey and Nick  recorded two more nests in Western Road and another one at St. Anne's Church, bringing our total up to 24 nests for 2022. Although the Swifts seemed to be later in returning to Lewes this year, because of the storms over the Pyrenees, this figure compares well with the same time last year!

Kevin has recorded this video of the two Swifts in the nest at King Henry's Road during the rain on 15th May!

May 16th - update on nest totals for 2022!

After surveys and Swift Watch reports yesterday, we now have recorded 21 active nests altogether! The sites are:

  • Western Road - 3 nests
  • St. Anne's Church - 3 nests
  • High Street - 3 nests
  • Grange Road - 1 nest
  • The Maltings - 2 nests
  • King Henry's Road - 1 nest
  • St. Martin's Lane - 1 nest
  • De Montfort Road - 1 nest
  • Station Street - 1 nest
  • Bridgewick Close - 1 nest
  • Southover High Street - 1 nest
  • The Avenue - 2 nests
  • Potter's Lane - 1 nest

We have also seen banging at some "old" nest spaces in Western Road and at one of the new Peak nest boxes! When the Swifts fly past very close to a box and bang it with their wing it is an indication that they may return and nest there!

Western Road box

May 12th

The second Swift has returned to the King Henry's Road nest in Lewes which has a nest cam! After surveys last night, between us the surveyors have recorded nine nests so far: one in upper Western Road; three at St. Anne's Church; two at the rear of the High Street, (off St. Swithun's Lane); one in King Henry's Road, one in Station Street and one in The Avenue!

12.5.22 Two Swifts

May 11th - more Swift boxes installed in Lewes!

We were out and about Lewes today with Dave Boddington to help him to install three new Swift boxes - in Valence Road, Sun Street and on the side of Christ Church in Prince Edward's Road. We saw Swifts flying over at each site - which we take as a good omen!


Sun Street   Christ Church  Valence Road 2

                  Sun Street                                                 Christ Church                                            Valence Road


May 8th - first nest entries!

The first returns to nests have been reported! Surveyor Kevin saw one fly under the eaves of the paint shop in Station Street on 5th May and Supporter Sue saw another return to the colony at the back of the High Street, viewed from St. Swithun's Lane, on 7th May.

At 7.55 in the evening, Sharon noticed that one of "her" Swifts had returned to the nest space in King Henry's Road where we have installed a nest cam. We have saved a short video which shows the Swift preening itself after its long journey back to Lewes. It is very welcome indeed!  Video: 8th May Swift 


Swifts featured on Tweet of the Day today!

Swifts flying

Photograph of some of the Swifts at the rear of the High Street from 2021, by Debs Kemp.

May 5th - More Swift watch sightings!

More Swift Watch reports!

  • From Sukey - three to four Swifts flying over St. John's Street and Sun Street on 3rd May.
  • From Peter - a group of 5-6 flying around Abinger Place at 1.00 p.m. on 3rd May.

And in Valence Road, another Swift box!

101 Valence Road


May 2nd - another Swift box!

We are very grateful to Declan, landlord of the Black Horse, for agreeing to install a Swift nest box at the side of the pub while the scaffolding was still in place! This is between two large colonies in Western Road - a Swift hot spot - and Swifts can often be seen flying low over the building!

Black Horse box


April 25th

This morning, Lewes Swift Supporters were asked to take part in a short interview on the Today programmes on Radio 4!

Today programme excerpt 25.4.22


More April Sightings!

Two Swifts seen by Lindsay on Saturday 23rd April, heading over Landport Bottom and three Swifts seen by Peter near the Railway Station on Friday 29th!

2 Swifts

April 21st - First Swifts?!

On Thursday 21st April, Tony Reid reported one single Swift flying over valence Road and Nevill Road at 1.20 p.m! Later that day, at 6.30 p.m., Audrey Jarvis saw two low-flying Swifts heading South above Leicester Road! It is still early days but it seems that they are on their way to us!

Swift 21.4.22


April 12th - Making a Swift-friendly garden!

Lewes Swift Supporters helped Emma Chaplin, Communications Officer for Sussex Wildlife Trust, to make a garden that is good for Swifts and other wildlife. Read Emma's Blog to find out more!

On the other side of Lewes, we have a new Swift nest box! This double box from Peak boxes is in Mount Pleasant, very near to the colony recorded in Abinger Place!

Mount Pleasant box


March 23rd - Wildlife Trust campaign to help Swifts and other high-flying birds!

To find out how, click on this link: Act swiftly to help Swifts, Swallows and House Martins!

You can download a free guide from the Wildlife Trusts here! 



March 17th - New nest boxes!

With the fantastic help of Dave Boddington, we installed four more Swift nest boxes in Lewes today! 

Two of them are in The Avenue - two Peak single boxes, installed on a direct flight path from the large colony at St. Anne's Church and near the feeding ground over Baxter's Field. A third Peak single box was installed at Chandler's Wharf - near to where Swifts feed as they fly up and down the river. 

Last of all, we fitted a triple cavity Schwegler nest box that was kindly donated to LSS by one of our supporters. This is now in St. Swithun's Lane, very close indeed to the active colony at the rear of the High Street!

Avenue 1   Avenue 2    Chandlers    Swithuns