Catharine Gale, a trustee of Hampshire Swifts charity, writes July’s update on the swifts at Winchester Cathedral’s movements:
The 20 nest boxes that Hampshire Swifts installed in the tower of Winchester Cathedral have attracted a huge amount of interest from non-breeding swifts over the last week. When monitored during the evening, an estimated 30 to 40 swifts were flying close to the nest box entrances. Many of these birds will have been looking for a place to nest next year.
Some clung on to the entrances before dropping away, probably because they realised that those boxes were already occupied. The amount of activity made it hard to gauge precisely how many boxes were being used, but it could now be 11. This video shows the activity in front of the nest boxes at noon today.
Visitors may notice the call attraction system which was installed which plays a compilation of duets given by a breeding pair of swifts defending its nest place from other swifts. Swifts searching for a place to nest are attracted by these duets as they hope there might be room for them to nest at the same site. The call attraction system is set up to play calls three times a day (early morning, midday and evening) to coincide with periods when swifts are more likely to be looking for nest sites. Soon after the calls were switched on in May 2021, we saw swifts investigating the openings in the tower that lead into the nest boxes.