Forest Hill SE23 & Lewisham Borough Swift Group


Swifts are nesting in our neighbourhood and need our help!

Last year I set up Forest Hill & Lewisham Borough Swift Group to try and help our local swifts and raise general awareness about them. Swifts are amazing birds that come to the UK from Africa every summer to nest. They sleep and eat on the wing and almost never stop flying, only ever landing to nest when they get to us!

We used to get loads of swifts in SE23 but their numbers have really declined, as they have across the UK. This is mainly due to loss of nest sites through roof repairs, building renovations and demolition of old buildings. Swifts have been sharing our buildings with us ever since the Roman times due to loss of ancient forest.
There have been active swift colonies in SE23 ever since I can remember but their numbers are falling every year, down by 40-50%! Our aim is to provide new sites in SE23 and across the Lewisham Borough and help protect old ones. We know of a precious swift colony in Wynell Road which has been there for at least over 30 years and they are really struggling due to all the repairs in the area. This is one of our priority areas. This is our Facebook page where you can find out more. Please join and let us know if you see any swifts or want to put up nest boxes on your house or public building.

On a very positive note Lewisham Homes have agreed to let us put up swift boxes on any of their suitable buildings and Breyer Group will be installing them. This is great to hopefully help boost the numbers of this beautiful bird in our locality and protect our communities biodiversity. I’ve set up a crowdfunding page to help raise money to fund the boxes. If anyone could donate or help spread the message to make it a success, this the link to the crowdfunding page

As well as people and businesses / churches / libraries / schools willing to put boxes up in SE23 on their buildings, we are also looking for local friendly builders who could give us advice on installing nest boxes on high buildings.

Many thanks!


If I wanted to put up swift houses at my property how would I do that?


I was just going to ask the same question!

I love seeing and hearing them in summer.

edit - only £40 to go, you may able to cover to whole of SE23 at this rate! Well done.


Hi starmen and oakr,

Great you both want to help swifts by putting up some boxes :smiley:
I am currently putting an information sheet together with information about installing boxes and will post on here when its done.
Also hoping to get a talk organised by UK swift expert and founder of Swift Conservation UK this year in Forest Hill for residents and council / building planners. I was hoping for it to happen this Summer but looks like Autumn now.



Good stuff @Rebecca_Headd!

After today’s donations, just £40 to go:


Hi Rebecca, please keep FH Library informed of any talks/updates etc going on in the area & also FH Society will probably want to know about this too if possible so I’m adding @Michael here to make him aware :+1:


Hi Pauline,
I certainly will, thanks for getting in touch.
I’ve heard there is a small swift colony seen regularly flying over Forest Hill library? If so, the library might be a great site for swift boxes in the future!


Chris Beach, many thanks for your kind support and generous donation! :smiley:


Thank you all for your kind donations. If you haven’t yet joined our group, please do!


No worries. Two more donations today (from @Starman and @JHop) - just £15 to go!


Well done, @Rebecca_Headd :thumbsup:


We’ve reached our target!!! A big thank you to all who donated and shared the page! We can now afford to buy 25 swift boxes and 25 nest forms to go inside. Nest forms make the boxes more inviting. Plans are underway and we are working with Lewisham Homes, the Breyer Group and Swift Conservation to ensure the boxes are put in the best places. We also need to purchase equipment to set up swift calling systems which are vital to attracting swifts to the new sites, so will continue to accept donations for 20 days.

It’s so great so many people care about swifts and get the same joy from them as I do. I am really pleased and this fills me with optimism we can do something to help them. I am thinking of organising a swift meet up soon and hope to get our group constituted so we can apply for funding for larger projects across SE23 and the borough! Anyone who loves swifts and nature and wants to enhance our local biodiversity can join!!!


I think there might be & I think that’s a great idea :heart_eyes::heart_eyes:


Sitting in the garden Last night we saw a few swifts overhead. Lovely to see.


They are so active just now, I love seeing and hearing them. I will get the info about boxes etc up soon. Four boxes will hopefully be going up in SE23 by the end of this week. Fingers crossed!


Four swift boxes going up today in SE23 :green_heart:


Whereabouts? I live on Wynell road. But I rent, but could talk to owners of top flats.


Agreed. Was at the Honor Oak Rec this afternoon and there were loads to be seen and heard.


Hi All
Just heard about your group although I live in Bedfordshire. Was born & Bred in Anerley near the Crystal Palace park.
I have very recently put up 2 swift boxes to the design of the Swift conservation Group. Swifts arrived may 7th and I have been playing the swift call audio from the conservation group from 5.30 am to 11.0 am and again from 4.30 to 9pm. During the last 3 days (25 to 27th Swifts have changed their flight paths to fly over and around my house and they have begun to inspect the boxes for a few seconds by clinging on. I’m very optimistic of takers next year if not this time. I doubt that they would have found my boxes without the audio because in the past they have been flyinf in a nearby street. The recommended mini Cheng amplifier costs about £12 and I found a supplier DX Deal Extreme. who supplied mine in about 10 days as opposed to another in Hong Kong quoting 1 to 2 months.
This morning I was thrilled to catch on video a Swift entering one of my boxes and having watched 15 mis so far hasnt emerged. I’m certain that I wouldnt have attracted them to find my new boxes so quickly without the audio.
I’m inspired by your group to try and set one up in my area where there are lots of swifts but also a lot of older properties being renovated especially around guttering and eves areas.
Good Luck to all!


Hi Anne,
They nest in various houses on the side opposite Shifford path. I have confirmed at least 4 nest sites but there could be more. It would be great if you could talk to the owners of the top flat. I am going to create a leaflet asking if people living on that side of Wynell Road would consider letting us install boxes on their buildings and will post through letter boxes sometime over the next few weeks. I know of a couple of owners of top floor flats who are already interested. Lewisham Homes also own a property on the street and I am in discussion with them at the moment about possibly siting boxes on their building too. I live at number 11.