I was absolutely delighted to see that swifts have finally begun colonising the Cambridge Swift Tower at Logan’s Meadow Local Nature Reserve in East Chesterton. This was an innovative public art project commissioned three years ago from London-based artist Andrew Merritt.
Local volunteers from Action for Swifts worked with the City Council and the artist to design the tower. Since the opening, recorded swift calls have been played over the summer months to attract young birds to take up residence and form a new colony.
Swifts have shown interest in previous summers but this is the first year birds have been seen entering boxes on both the front and back of the tower. Up to 10 birds are now regularly wheeling around the structure and creating the spectacle that was envisaged at the start of the project.
I love this project. Public art projects can be controversial, but this shows how contributions from developers can be used to really enhance an area affected by development and in this case a much-loved local nature reserve. The Swift Tower sits within an extension to the riverine Logan’s Meadow Local Nature Reserve, and earthwork to create a River Cam backwater and reed bed will begin very shortly.
Swifts return to the same nest sites every year. Unfortunately they’re declining, and one likely cause is loss of nest sites as buildings are renovated, insulated and rebuilt. The Swift Tower might eventually become home to a huge colony, but equally important it raises awareness of swifts and how Cambridge residents and visitors can help through preserving nest sites or putting up nest boxes.