Swift Box Installed at Upper Thames Rowing Club in Memory of Member Tony

A swift nesting box has been installed on Upper Thames Rowing Club’s boat house last week as a memorial to former member, Tony Waller who sadly passed away in September 202o.

Tony’s wife, Isobel said, “Tony was a member of UTRC for 20+ years and he loved the river. Growing up he loved to swim and sail on the river and he built boats with his Dad.  At Upper Thames he rowed in four or an eight and I remember he got a medal at Marlow Regatta one year.  He also loved birds and was very fond of frogs and when we visited South Africa where I’m originally from we always visited national parks and went on bird trips.  The last boat he built was Norwegian Faering (pictured below) which he built in our garage in Islington and launched it into the Regent’s Canal much to the annoyance of the fishermen.”

The nesting box was made and installed by Bisham Nest Box Group and has a swift call sound system to attract the birds to the box.  Isobel has had a nest box on her home in Cromwell Road for the last 2 years.  Isobel said, “I thought it would be a really nice thing to do as the swift population is on decline.  The way the swifts dip and glide is just wonderful.  I approached the club and they really liked the idea and I hope that we get swifts come next year to nest.  I think Tony would be very pleased to have something here where he rowed and his love of the river.”

Swifts are the most amazing birds and are spectacular to watch. They are the fastest horizontal flyers of any bird on the planet. They feed, sleep and even mate on the wing. In fact they never land except to breed and if they do get grounded they have great difficulty in taking off again. They are only in the UK for about 12 weeks in the summer.

Diana from Henley Swift Group said, “Henley Swift Support Group are delighted that a box has been installed at UTRC.  A lovely memorial to Tony Waller and a gift to nature. The Rowing Club is an excellent site for a box as we have watched several groups of swifts feeding above the river. As swift populations suffer mainly due to loss of nesting sites and the dramatic decline in flying insects (their main food source), it is important that we encourage swifts (and insects) as much as possible. Anyone wanting information and advice on putting up a swift box, please contact swiftshenley@gmail.com and we would gladly help.”