CONSERVATIONISTS are encouraging residents to install swift nest boxes as the birds return to the town from South Africa.

As the summer months start to make an appearance, Warrington Nature Conservation Forum (WNCF) hope the migrating birds will nest in the St Elphin's Church Tower in nest boxes installed late last year and in the Sift Tower close to Warrington Guardian head office in Centre Park.

The swifts nest inside cavities, often high up in the roof space under the eaves of old houses and churches.

There used to be a colony of swifts breeding in St Elphin’s Church Tower but their breeding numbers have fallen by 51 per cent between 1995 and 2015.

Brian Martin, former chair of the Warrington Nature Conservation Forum, has been studying the swifts for decades and has documented the changes across Warrington and Cheshire.

He said: "There are still colonies of swifts that can be seen across the town where older housing stock exists, Westy for example is a good place to see them.

"However, our survey results in the town confirm the national trend that their numbers have fallen.

"I have been looking at ways to reverse the downward trend by advising new house builders to design the eaves of houses to accommodate them.

"I have also tried to persuade people to stop blocking up existing nest entrances and encouraged others to mount swift boxes below the eaves of their houses.

"They are not too expensive, and you could put one below the eaves of your house."

Brian contacted ornithologists Louise and Jim Bentley for advice in constructing and installing nest boxes at St Elphin's Church Tower to try and re-introduce the birds to the area.

Recordings of swifts will also be played to try and entice the birds this summer.