Sutton Bridge church gets ready for its very own ‘swift watch’ in the bell tower

St Matthew's Church, Sutton Bridge.  Vicar David Oxtoby & Lesley Robinson  Gods Acre in churchyard, screen in church that has CCTV link to swift boxes in tower,  Details David Oxtoby on 01406 258572 or 07595 387652
volunteer Charlie Doades in tower by bell and bird boxes ANL-160815-115534001

St Matthew's Church, Sutton Bridge. Vicar David Oxtoby & Lesley Robinson Gods Acre in churchyard, screen in church that has CCTV link to swift boxes in tower, Details David Oxtoby on 01406 258572 or 07595 387652 volunteer Charlie Doades in tower by bell and bird boxes ANL-160815-115534001

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Move over Springwatch – St Matthew’s Church at Sutton Bridge is launching ‘swift watch’, complete with nesting boxes in its bell tower.

One nest box has a CCTV camera inside and it’s hoped by next year that there will be some feathered residents for visitors to watch on the big screen inside the church.

St Matthew's Church, Sutton Bridge.  Vicar David Oxtoby & Lesley Robinson  Gods Acre in churchyard, screen in church that has CCTV link to swift boxes in tower,  Details David Oxtoby on 01406 258572 or 07595 387652
Vicar David Oxtoby & Lesley Robinson  with volunteer Charlie Doades by screen ANL-160815-115450001

St Matthew's Church, Sutton Bridge. Vicar David Oxtoby & Lesley Robinson Gods Acre in churchyard, screen in church that has CCTV link to swift boxes in tower, Details David Oxtoby on 01406 258572 or 07595 387652 Vicar David Oxtoby & Lesley Robinson with volunteer Charlie Doades by screen ANL-160815-115450001

Meanwhile, technology is being used to play recorded calls of swifts night and morning so passing birds get the idea that St Matthew’s is a safe haven for them.

The RSBP says “swifts are in trouble”, with breeding numbers dropping by 42 per cent between 1995-2013.

Local conservationist Lesley Robinson approached the Rev David Oxtoby to see if the church could help.

And with support from the vicar and volunteers, the nesting boxes have now gone in.

St Matthew's Church, Sutton Bridge.  Vicar David Oxtoby & Lesley Robinson  Gods Acre in churchyard, screen in church that has CCTV link to swift boxes in tower,  Details David Oxtoby on 01406 258572 or 07595 387652
Vicar David Oxtoby & Lesley Robinson  with volunteer Charlie Doades in Gods Acre ANL-160815-115430001

St Matthew's Church, Sutton Bridge. Vicar David Oxtoby & Lesley Robinson Gods Acre in churchyard, screen in church that has CCTV link to swift boxes in tower, Details David Oxtoby on 01406 258572 or 07595 387652 Vicar David Oxtoby & Lesley Robinson with volunteer Charlie Doades in Gods Acre ANL-160815-115430001

Lesley said: “With advice from swift expert Dick Newell, swift boxes were made to specific plans and placed behind the louvres in the tower.

“We have been playing swift calls to attract our fastest level flying birds.

“A church belfry is an ideal nesting site and many churches now across the country are having success in providing homes for these visitors.”

The boxes have been in situ for a while but so far no swifts have taken up residence.

Lesley said: “Typically, for the first year we have only created interest, with swifts simply flying around the tower regularly. Many churches have reported little success on the first year, but the following year the young birds return. And so we are hoping for swift families next spring.”

And in a second conservation project, a quiet corner of the churchyard is being developing into a native wildflower meadow, which will not only provide food, shelter and homes for a wide variety of wildlife, bees and butterflies, but also create an area of interest for churchyard visitors.

“The Caring for God’s Acre charity is dedicated to creating wildlife havens within the sanctuary of churchyards across the country, and we have followed their aim.”

Small grants came from Lincolnshire County Council and SBPC for conservation, swift nest boxes were donated by Hallgate Timber, of Long Sutton, and Shire Shed Company, of Sutton Bridge, and public donations paid for bird boxes.