Enter the pandemic. While this mantle has looked quite different during my time in this role, I have never been more acutely aware of the value of our organization bringing people together in nature. As the exponential increase in birding nationally demonstrates, the outdoors have become a vital respite for many of us, both seasoned and new. Over the last two years, I have been so grateful to work with an incredible team creating new, outside-the-box opportunities for people of all ages, socioeconomic backgrounds, and comfort levels to experience the natural world in community.
At the same time, the specter of COVID-19 has always loomed large. We have followed the changing health advisories closely, and tacked and tacked again in order to ensure that every program we offer operates at safety standards that are above and beyond recommendations.
With this in mind, in consultation with our partners, we have made the difficult decision to cancel Swift Watch for the second year in a row.
Chapman School has requested that people do not congregate at the site. There will not be resources in place to deal with parking, crowd management, garbage cleanup, and other logistics necessary to make Swift Watch a success, and the crowds that Swift Watch attracts are far too large to allow for safe COVID-19 distancing, especially considering the arrival of the Delta variant.
We urge the community to respect this request—large crowds at Chapman will put the community at risk and undermine local support for the birds. For the sake of the birds and our community, please do not go to Chapman in the evenings this September.
Our community scientists will continue to track the Chapman Vaux’s Swift populations with our annual Swift Count throughout their migration. We will also welcome a limited number of volunteers in the early mornings on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday to assist with trash pickup. Please join us to ensure the space remains clean, help us maintain ties with this wonderful community, and observe the swifts awaken and emerge from the chimney into the morning sun.
For more information about morning swift volunteering, please contact Volunteer Manager Vicky Medley at firstname.lastname@example.org.