By Peter Allen
SCHULL’s Scoil Mhuire National School is taking part in the Swift Conservation Ireland project. The conservation project is part of a reaction triggered by recent estimates that the Irish population of the swift species has dropped by 40% in 15 years.
Much like swallows, swifts migrate here in the late spring to reproduce and then leave for tropical Africa again in August.
The Irish population has been ‘amber listed’ while the European
population is still secure. The Schull primary school is hosting purpose-built nesting boxes for swifts, which can be monitored for activity. Swifts come back to the same nest every year for their entire life, which can lead to problems when their legacy nests are removed or made inaccessible.
The Swift Conversation Ireland project aims to expose Irish children to nature as an area of interest in their lives.
The project especially encourages bird-watching as a worthwhile activity for all the enjoy. Swallows feed on flying insects, spending little time perched on wires or on the ground like other birds. They are one of the fastest birds in Ireland, capable of reaching just over 110kph under their own power.
On the European mainland, the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) has noted a ‘massive disappearance’ of birds across the fields of France. This is due to a large fall in flying insect populations in this region, which may be caused by widespread insecticide use and intensive farming.