Harleston pupils help to launch project to encourage swifts to nest in town

Students at Harleston Primary School on the Eco Rangers team

Students at Harleston Primary School on the Eco Rangers team - Credit: Archant

More than 400 school children will play their part in welcoming migrating swifts as they return to Harleston.

Pupils at Harleston Primary School have started to cut out and decorate templates of swifts in the colours of the flags of African countries where the swifts migrate to.

The cut outs will be put together to create a large mobile which will hang in the town. The youngsters will also add a good luck message for the swifts' safe return from their long migrations.

Harleston is known for its swift population, with the birds living in the town from May to August before they fly off for sunny climates over the autumn and winter months.

But across Britain the population of swifts is declining rapidly mainly because of the loss of their traditional nest sites. To raise awareness and promote the town's link with the bird, a community- wide initiative called SwiftAction Harleston -co-ordinated by Harleston's Future - was launched.

The primary school's eco rangers have also introduced the town's special swift salute, used by supports of the project in symbolic recognition of the birds, to the rest of the pupils.

The salute is made by holding the first second and third fingers together and splaying out thumb and little finger as wide as possible and rotating the wrist rapidly as you draw your hand across through the air

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Rachel Conquer, teacher at the primary school, said: 'Saluting the swifts is a great way to remind us all of the need to care for our wildlife, and to learn about the places in Africa they go to and the people who live there.

'It also helps to put Harleston on the map, as a town that values the importance of wildlife to the quality of life for people of all ages and countries.'

Volunteers are working on the next stage of the SwifAction Harleston project which is the nest box programme. More than 100 people have expressed an interest in improving their homes or gardens for swifts.

For more information about SwiftAction Harleston, email harleston.likesswiftaction@gmail.com

Are you involved in a project? Email rebecca.murphy@archant.co.uk