Our Display in the Library                            Our Evening Swift Walk




Swift Awareness Week ran from 2nd July to 9th July this year and during that week Totley Swift Group had a large eye-catching display at Totley Library, and on Saturday the 2nd they also had a stand outside the Co-op on Baslow Road.  Both created a great deal of interest into the plight of Swifts, these beautiful birds that produce the most amazing air displays around our village.  We are so very privileged to have Swifts breeding in a few of our Totley houses when they have disappeared from so many parts of the country.  Swifts have been subject to a national decline of some sixty percent in the last 25 years, so they are a bird we certainly do need to help.


On Thursday July 7th the group then attended a Swift Seminar at Hallam University with other Swift Groups from around the city.  It was organized by the Sheffield and Rotherham Wildlife Trust and we were invited to have a stand and display there which again created a lot of excitement, interest and enquiries.


The week has proved a huge success raising the group’s profile both near and far, and thanks go to Julie Gay and Chris Brewster for all their hard work putting the displays together.  And it is really pleasing to know how well the various Sheffield Swift Groups are networking, sharing information and supporting each other with the main aim, to protect Swifts.


But our work in the week did not end there, and on the Tuesday evening over 20 local residents gathered together on Mickley Lane to attend a Swift Walk.  It was a perfectly clear evening and Sally Goldsmith led the group around part of the Laverdene estate sharing her knowledge about Swifts and the site she has studied so well over the last few years as she pointed out nest sites and newly erected nest boxes.  The Swifts performed well, so all of the group had good views as the evening progressed and the birds came down from feeding on high, to screaming low over roof tops and over our heads.  This event was such a success it will certainly be organized again next year.


From these events, articles and social media, more enquiries are being fielded by the group and these enquiries are not only from Totley residents but from residents in Dore, Bradway and further afield.  We are now finding ourselves more and more an S17 group and not just a Totley group.


Our next day for fitting more Swift nest boxes is planned for late autumn.  Visits to houses are being made now to discuss the best site for a box and the most suitable box to purchase.  And if the resident wishes to purchase a nest box through “Peak Boxes” of the Hope Valley then we can help by providing a discount code and we can arrange collection as well as fitting.


In the meantime, a number of members of the group are walking around the village making a note of the number of Swifts present and what activity is observed, which can include high or low flying birds; birds entering cavities in houses or even into boxes that have recently been erected by the group.  Activity at some boxes is already occurring which is great news because if Swifts do get used to using these specially designed nest boxes, then we hope this will be the start of seeing the birds increase in numbers in our area over the next few years.


So, if you are interested in having a Swift nest box erected on your property or you want to send in records of your sightings or get involved in surveying these wonderful creatures that zip through our skies, just contact swiftsoftotley@outlook.com and help us try to halt the decline of Swifts.


Please write to that email address if you just want to be added to the Totley Swift Group mailing list for the occasional (and I do mean occasional) newsletter; membership of the group is free.  And if you have time, do have a look at the Totley Swift Group page that appears on the Friends of Gillfield Wood website.


Enjoy the last few days of Swifts flying overhead this season as they will be preparing to depart in August for Africa.  We can only hope that they will survive their long migration and their time in their winter quarters, and safely return in May next year to provide us with so many exhilarating experiences.


Chris Measures


Different styles of Swift boxes being fitted by the group on 3rd March 2022.


A good number of residents in the village are getting excited as we get nearer to the month of May.  They are looking forward to those wonderful birds, the Swifts, returning from their winter quarters in Africa and flying low over our rooftops in aerobatic formations.


Those residents have had Swift nest boxes erected on their properties over the last two years and are eagerly waiting to see if a pair of Swifts takes an interest in their new nest box.  Some residents have even had a sound system fitted to play Swift calls that can attract Swifts to the box.


Should you be interested in having a Swift nest box fitted to your property and would like some advice, please do not hesitate to contact Totley Swift Group by email; the contact address is swiftsoftotley@outlook.com.  If you are considering a Swift box, one important point to make is that Swifts do not make a mess on the outside walls below the fitted nest box. You will also be please to know that once the box is fitted it does not need to be cleaned out, unlike boxes that say, Blue Tits and Robins occupy. 


Part of the service our Swift Group provides is to visit properties and discuss with the owner, the type of boxes available and where best to site a box.  We can also explain the use of a sound system, should that be of interest.  Some of the nest boxes also have a facility behind the box, that provides a place for bats to roost.


Nearly all the boxes we have erected have been made by Peak Boxes, a business that operates out of the Hope Valley.  We have a great working relationship with the owners; their website is well worth a look.  If the nest box is purchased from them, we can collect it, to avoid postage, and we may even be able to arrange a discount, depending on when the box is purchased.  In addition, we are always hopeful that we can arrange for a fitter to erect a number of boxes around the village on one agreed day.


On one Thursday in March, we managed to get 11 more boxes erected around the village.  That means that nearly 70 boxes have been erected since our Swift Group was formed two years ago, and as most of the boxes have dual nest chambers, we are now providing Swifts with over 120 new nest sites to choose from.  


There is real concern as to the speed at which Swift numbers have declined nationally; this has been put down in the main to the birds losing natural nest sites in buildings where property improvements have been carried out.  With all these new nest sites we are providing, we are hoping that we can, not only halt the decline of Swift numbers in our village, but we can also help them increase their numbers over the coming years.


Our Totley Swifts Facebook account continues to attract more followers.  This inevitably brings in more enquiries from in and outside the village, so we have found that we are providing advice to people not only in Totley but in Dore, Bradway, Millhouses and Ecclesall as well.  We are also in close contact with other Swift Groups in Sheffield and as such, are able to pass people on, where appropriate, to a group covering the area in which they live; groups such as S6, S7 and S11.


Some residents are very keen to have a nest box so that it provides an education tool for their children, which is great.  Other residents have specifically asked us to fit their nest box on the back of their house so they can watch the Swifts coming and going on a warm summer evening whilst they sit outside with a glass of wine.   Now, if that is not an incentive to have a box fitted……


We look forward to hearing from you.


Chris Measures

April 2022

Erecting a specially designed Apex Swift nest box on Totley All Saints School.  Totley Swift Group with on the right Lester and Lynden Hartmann of Peak Boxes.

Mick Warwick and Chris Brewster helping Lester erect one of the boxes.


David Steward, Chris, Lester and Mick with one of the ten boxes bought with the funds kindly donated by Birds on the Brink, as engraved on the bottom of the box.




Facebook: S17 & Totley Swifts

Twitter: @Totley Swifts





JULY 2 TO 10, 2022


Celebrating our not so Common Swifts with their own Swift Awareness Week (SAW) - trying to reverse their decline!



On Saturday July 2 Totley Swift Group will have an 

information stall outside Totley Co-op from 9am to 1pm


Totley village Swift walk is on Tuesday, 5 July at 8pm

weather permitting.  Meet at Green Oak Park entrance on Mickley Lane. Please email to book a place.


During SAW, Totley Library will have displays about Swifts and other wildlife in Totley and the S17 area, in 

conjunction with the Friends of Gillfield Wood.






The Friends of Gillfield Wood have been spreading their wings and have set up a Swift Group in Totley.

Swift Groups have and are being set up all over the country; in cities, towns and 

villages.  Our Swift Group had a very successful year surveying the village for nesting sites 

during the breeding season of 2020.  Swifts choose to nest in gaps in brickwork in 

properties, near or under gutters, or in holes in roofs.  They return to the same nest site in May, and leave again for Africa in July/August.


One of the aims of the Totley Swift Group is to try to protect these existing nesting sites 

because so many sites have been lost to house, roof and guttering improvements, when 

residents were not aware that they had Swifts nesting in their property.  There has been a massive decline in the Swift population nationally in recent years, a 57% decline in 21 years.  Although we have noticed a decline in numbers in Totley over recent years, we are 

fortunate to still have about 20 pairs of Swifts breeding in the village. 


One of our other aims is to introduce Swift nest boxes to certain suitable properties throughout the village to try and give Swifts alternative nesting sites. Just after setting up the Group, we were successful in securing a grant from the council to enable us to purchase 10 Swift boxes with a dual nest chamber.  In addition, 12 such boxes were purchased by 

individuals and sponsors; thus the 22 boxes have provided the Swifts with 44 new nest sites to choose from around our village!  


The nest boxes are professionally made by Lester Hartmann of Peak Boxes at his workshop in the Hope Valley.  He is known nationally for his nest boxes and he has provided great 

support to our group during our first year.  His website is certainly worth a look: 



Those 22 boxes were erected last March by Lester and two members of the Swift Group.  Swifts, in their first and second years of life, are known to investigate new nesting sites so hopefully we will see them nesting in our boxes over the coming years. 


We hope to erect another 10 dual chambered boxes this Autumn following a second 

successful grant application, this time from “Birds on the Brink”.  And more local residents have purchased their own boxes in anticipation of having their boxes erected at the same time. 


In addition, we are currently liaising with and sharing knowledge with other Swift groups around Sheffield.  A common interest will also be to try and encourage Sheffield City Council to introduce the installing of Swift bricks in any future building works.  These bricks are made with a nest hole within the brick, and can be retro fitted.


Regarding Swift boxes


It takes just a few minutes to erect a box on the outside wall of a house.  A flat wooden bracket is attached to the side of the house initially, and then the Swift box is hooked onto the bracket.  Unlike most other nest boxes, where it is recommended you clean them out before the start of the breeding season, Swift nest boxes do not need to be cleaned out each year, so the boxes can be left undisturbed. 


It is also pleasing to note that Swifts do not make a mess on the sides of houses as some species of bird are known to do.  The Swift box is not large, it is elongated and fits under or as near to the gutter as is suitable. 


The boxes we used in this first year are dual combination Swift boxes with two nest 

chambers.  The bracket behind the box can also be made for bats to use for roosting.  




If you are interested in buying your own box, then please write to the email address: swiftsoftotley@outlook.com. If you buy your own box from Peak Boxes, then we hope to be able to arrange fitting in the Autumn.


Chris Measures, Mick Warwick and Chris Brewster

Totley Swift Group September 2021


Coming Soon (see Events page for further details):


Saturday 6th April: Flora Walk.


Monday 15th April: FoGW AGM


Saturday 11th May: Spring Bat Walk


Saturday 18th MayBird Walk 

There will be no Ranger led Conservation sessions until September. Please see emails and website for details of ad hoc sessions before then, led by FoGW committee members.


See Conservation Work page