SSEN enTices swifts to Badshot Lea nature reserve

A six-strong team of volunteers from Scottish and Southern Electricity Networks (SSEN) have been working with a local nature reserve to help to boost Surrey’s declining Swift population.


Modern building methods can make it almost impossible for Swifts to make nests in the eaves of new properties and with their numbers in decline across the UK, the Tice’s Meadow Bird Group got in touch with SSEN to ask if they could help with a project to house up to 11 pairs of the birds and their young.


Volunteers at the Badshot Lea reserve had built a Swift box, but finding the right structure to mount the box on was proving slightly more difficult and as suitable poles can cost tens of thousands of pounds, they were concerned that their efforts to help the birds might be dashed.


Aware of SSEN’s Be the Difference volunteering scheme, that enables staff to take time away from their day jobs to help local communities and charities, the volunteers got in touch with their local SSEN depot to ask for their assistance.


SSEN Linesman Foreman, Graham Humpston was instrumental in getting the team together and explains how they used their Be the Difference day to help the reserve:


“When we heard about the plight of the Swifts and how Tice’s Meadow Nature Reserve were in need of something - and someone - to get the Swift box in place, we knew we had the perfect solution.


“SSEN recycles all of its old wooden poles that carry our overhead cables and they’re exactly the right height and width to hold these larger bird boxes, as well as being environmentally friendly. We knew we had two suitable poles at the depot, along with a willing supply of volunteers and equipment to get the poles in place, so we were happy to help put up the swift box and an additional two Barn Owl boxes while we were there.


“The reserve is so peaceful and the whole team were conscious about not disturbing any of the wildlife there, so we parked the machinery we had brought and used decades old, traditional methods to place the poles by hand. It might just be one day away from our usual jobs, but the whole team hopes that single day’s work will last for years to come and bring many more birds to this beautiful area.”


Richard Horton, Chairman of Tice's Meadow Bird Group, added:


"We are so grateful to the team from SSEN who have helped us out with our swift tower. Graham and his team couldn't have been more accommodating or helpful, and the professionalism with which they worked was an example for all. SSEN's Be the Difference scheme has really made a difference for both our volunteers and the much threatened Swifts, which will hopefully be moving into their new home next spring.”