ANGRY residents fear the installation of anti-pigeon spikes under the eaves of flats in a New Milton housing estate could spell the destruction of a colony of swifts.

Mother-of-two Debbie Podjacki, who has lived in the North Milton Estate for more than 25 years, told of her horror when she discovered that council workers had installed scores of strips of plastic spikes and blocked holes under the eaves of a three-storey block of flats.

The 51-year-old, of Marryat Road, claims New Forest District Council told her an ecologist had conducted a survey of the site in preparation for a major refurbishment and that the anti-pigeon devices were put up to deter house martins.

But Mrs Podjacki, who says there have been swifts nesting at the estate since she moved in, fears the survey did not take into account the migratory swifts who arrive in England to breed in the summer months.

“These birds are unique and increasingly rare and yet we could potentially lose a colony of up to 50 pairs of birds,” she said.

“They have incredible fidelity to their nesting sites. Even if bird boxes are put in place, if they’re more than three inches away from the original site, swifts will still try and get into holes.”

A spokesman for New Forest District Council, said: “The council has been working throughout all stages of the project with ecological consultants Ecosa.

“The ecologists carry out regular inspections and where nesting birds, or birds bringing up their offspring, have been observed, the council has been asked to set up exclusion zones to ensure they are not disturbed.

“We will also continue to use Ecosa to provide tool-box talks and monitor the contractors’ activities, together with offering advice to ourselves and our partners.

“Their advice also extends into how we may be able to provide nesting boxes for house martins and swifts once the works are complete.”

Swift numbers have declined dramatically in the UK in the past ten years and environmentalists claim one of the chief reasons is that their nest sites are being destroyed.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds has expressed its concern by placing the birds on its amber list, which means they are birds of conservation concern.