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The Telegraph
The Telegraph
9 Sep 2023

One might think that ultra-passionate Taylor Swift obsessives have an exclusive claim to the term “Swifties”. But now a new group with a far more significant cause has emerged to challenge them for the title: ordinary Britons fighting for the survival of the swift.

Swifts, graceful and sooty brown, make Britain and Ireland their home from late April to mid-September. With a top speed of 69mph, they migrate to and from sub-Saharan Africa every year, refuelling in Portugal and France but otherwise sleeping, eating, mating and grooming themselves mid-air on their 4,000-mile migration. Their distinctive screaming is an evocative sound of our warmer months, their darting bodies silhouetted black against the summer sky.

But swift numbers are in freefall. Between 1995 and 2021, the British Trust for Ornithology recorded a 62 per cent decline in the species. It is believed numbers have fallen further in the past two years from 59,000 breeding pairs to 48,000. Swifts and three other cavity-nesting species – the house martin, starling and house sparrow – are now on the red list of endangered British birds, meaning they are the most at risk of extinction.