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House martin season coming to a close.

Monday and Tuesday saw our last brood of house martins fledge. The nest, by my son’s window has seen its fair share of tragedy with unsuccessful broods in 2020 and 2021. Last year was particularly tragic- the male disappeared when the nestlings were about two weeks old. The female could not keep up with feeding on her own and we were heartbroken to find her and her three nestlings dead in the nest in late September.

Fledging for house martins can be a rather protracted affair. After their first flight the fledglings return to the nest regularly for a few days and usually roost with their parents. As I write they are all back in the nest box being fed frequently by their parents. This period enables them to gain flying experience and map the local area. Within days they will be on their way to Africa.

This year we have seen at least thirty house martins fledge from our eaves, all from artificial nest cups. This offers some hope for the recovery of the house martin population in Gilling East and surrounding villages. Our artificial nests have enabled six pairs to maximise their breeding performance. After a very cold May set breeding back they were able to lay eggs quickly without having to expend valuable energy building a nest. I would hate to see a world where all house martins nest in artificial nests, one of the great joys of studying house martins is looking at individual mud nest structures, but for now needs must. 

I have made many watercolour sketches of house martins this year. I find their bold markings irresistible with splashes of deep midnight blue mixed with sepia and Payne’s grey in their upper parts. Subtle colour on their white underparts are a challenge to paint especially as they are often depicted within the shade of the eaves. I have a large body of work on house martins now- I have always found projects on single species very rewarding.

They remain amongst my favourite birds. I don’t really do lists of favourite species, but some have associations with my past. House martins shared our eaves at our house in Hungerford where I made them chicken wire and gummed paper nests after school! I was fortunate to have them play out their lives a few feet above my head at break times at both primary and secondary school in Hungerford. We had them on the first house we bought in Westwood, Wilstshire, then through our time in Ampleforth and Gilling East, so I have rarely lived without them each April- September. They are a constant through my life and since attracting swifts way back in  2003 I realised that they were especially delightful during the relative silence after the swifts’ departure.

So as the last of our house martins inevitably depart in the next week or so I can reflect on a successful season. A season in which I have studied and sketched them more prolifically than ever. As we hear the last of their calls there will be a short gap before the winter thrushes descend on the village. These thrushes will fill most of the gap before the first house martins prospect our nests again in April. I will miss them but there are countless autumn and winter spectacles to be enjoyed in their absence.

All text and images copyright Jonathan Pomroy 2022

A3 sketchbook watercolour studies of adult and recently fledged juvenile house martins- Pottergate, Gilling East.
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Swifts and lightning- bullfinches and marsh tits feeding on honeysuckle seeds.

Yesterday evening, as the thunderstorm approached, hirundines ascended to take insects carried aloft in its up draughts. I lay back in a sun lounger gazing at the building clouds and listening to the increasing volume of approaching thunder. The rain was so heavy that the noise it made on the tree canopy was audible about a minute before it arrived- when it did arrive it brought the wonderful smell of petrichor.  After seven days of near continuous blue sky and maximum temperatures daily exceeding 30C all that grey was a relief to the eyes. I studied and sketched the structure of the storm as it approached. A characteristic shelf cloud preceded vertical streaks of torrential rain. Cloud to cloud lightning sporadically danced across the sky- occasional strikes, roughly every two minutes producing lovely, lingering rumbles. I love watching lightning with a passion and each jagged arrangement was savoured and etched on my mind.

A few minutes before the rain fell our late breeding swift pair arrived, joined by another pair, perhaps another late breeding pair from Gilling Castle. I watched them scooping up the thunderstorm’s insect bounty and sketched their shapes for the ten thousandth time this year! As the rain really set in, the second pair vanished and ours descended to the nest box to accompany their single chick. It struck me that though dramatic to me this thunderstorm must be dwarfed by some of the storms our swifts have seen over Africa.

Four (possibly five) second broods of house martins seem to be doing well under our eaves. It is possibly their activity that has attracted the swallows that are gathering on our wires each day. In turn this has attracted a very regular hobby that chases them in fast tight manoeuvre flights around the houses. Thirty to forty, mainly juvenile swallows are at eye level on the wires outside our upstairs windows. Their constant twittering has been absent through much of the summer, in a village that used to host several pairs. None have nested nearby but I have been filled with hope seeing them.

The honeysuckle has been attracting bullfinches and marsh tits in recent days. Their target is not the luscious red berry flesh, but the seed within it. If we sit quietly in the garden the bullfinches creep around within the plant trying not to be seen, yet all the while utter their soft, rather deep, whistling contact calls. Marsh tits by contrast snatch a berry and carry it away. In every garden we have had honeysuckle has attracted bullfinches and in this area the seeds never fail to attract marsh tits. Honeysuckle can provide great cover for nests and its flowers attract some bumble bees and lots of moths, so for me it is an essential wildlife garden plant.

All text and images copyright Jonathan Pomroy 2022

Approaching thunderstorm. 15th August 7.37pm.
Swifts and cloud to cloud lightning
Marsh tit and bullfinch on honeysuckle.
Juvenile bullfinch in morning sun.
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The swifts are gone and life moves on.

It always feels strange when the weather is sultry and insects abound, yet the swifts are all but gone. My initial feeling of melancholy when they go is quickly replaced by excitement at all the other sights there are to see. When the swifts are here I am continually distracted by their presence and at times I must confess this leads me to miss other animals.

These last few mornings house martins have been very active between 6-7am. Adults and young birds fly up to our artificial nests. The breeding occupants guard their nest cups but empty ones are visited by new adults- I wonder where they are from and if they might decide to occupy them next year, but after 7am they are gone and they certainly don’t return to roost.

I have taken to getting up early(woken by the calls of the martins just before 6am), make strong coffee then stand outside in the cool morning air to watch and sketch them. It is bliss. No swifts to watch at the same time just the lovely sight and sound of house martins around the eaves. They are such smart looking birds and I feel compelled to sketch and paint them. I have amassed many watercolours of this species as part of a new project. So far we have seen about fifteen young fledge from our eaves and at least four pairs are raising second broods.

This house martin study takes me right back to my childhood when I spent hours in the garden with my first rather cumbersome pair of binoculars observing their every move. When the swifts are gone house martins take centre stage and I love them equally.

Since my last blog I have indeed heard the first late summer robin song- daily, beginning on 9th August. It is slower paced than the spring song, relaxed and befitting of this time of summer when natural food abounds and the living is relatively easy. A sighting of this songster revealed immaculate, fresh, moulted plumage- what a beautiful bird a robin is. I have watched a moulting willow warbler frequent the garden. Occasionally It utters a soft version of its glorious spring song from the cotoneaster. I wonder where it bred and ponder the route it will take when it is ready to proceed with its migration to south Africa?

I have seen goshawk, peregrine and hobby over the garden and watched a great variety of butterflies on the hemp agrimony by our pond. Our buddleia is only just starting to flower- I am no gardener, but I deliberately cut the buddleia back hard in June to delay flowering. This works a treat in attracting late August and September butterflies and other insects as neighbours’ buddleias fade.
I look at the branches of beech trees bending under the weight of mast and rather than miss the swifts look forward to flocks of brambling, chaffinch, tits and nuthatches to be seen on our mid winter walks.

I will keep the blog going through late summer, autumn and winter, sharing my observations of landscape and wildlife as I observe and sketch the changing seasons until I look forward again to the arrival of the swifts in spring. 2023.

All images and text copyright Jonathan Pomroy 2022

 

Adult house martins defending their nests- watercolour
Robin in freshly moulted plumage- watercolour
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The 2022 swift season in Gilling East

After a couple of weeks away on Anglesey we have returned to near swiftless skies. The main swift season ended very early here in Gilling East with the last prospecting behaviour observed on 21st July and not much at all in the air after 23rd July (similar on Anglesesy). I cannot help but think the extreme heat played a part in this but that is speculation and every year is different. However for this part of North Yorkshire this was a very early departure of breeding and non-breeding swifts. I would normally expect aerial activity well into August and sometimes until mid August.

To summarise the year here- amazing breeding performance by our first three pairs (two of these raising three chicks) but a very mixed year for aerial activity with many seemingly suitable days quiet. Our first three pairs all arrived between 9th- 16th May. In addition a forth pair took up residence on 21st May so we were up from two pairs in 2021 to four pairs. June was largely very quiet in the air before 23rd when the youngest non- breeders arrived . This silence masked the superb breeding performance happening under the eaves. You could be forgiven for thinking we had no swifts nesting most of the time, but the breeders were efficiently incubating eggs then feeding young with the weather very kind on the whole.

July saw mixed aerial action but was notably lacking in sustained yearling activity. A few exceptional days saw birds landing on random spots on the wall and house martin nests etc. -classic younger non breeder behaviour. Could this relatively quiet year for prospecting be related to poor breeding success in 2020/2021?

What really impressed me was seeing our colony develop as a unit. 4th, 2nd and 1st year breeders all returned between 9th- 16th May and laid first eggs within a few days (23rd-25th May) resulting in 8 chicks being fledged between 26-29th July. 50% of these chicks fledged at dusk. The adults left promptly after their chicks had fledged. The pair in box 2 took some time to add a little new nest material and repair the nest on the day they left!

Several friends in the North West of England are still seeing flypasts today and have good numbers roosting. This is a puzzling aspect of swift behaviour, the difference between colonies and regions. Perhaps it is best for the swifts that they go immediately rather than hang around after young have fledged? Or perhaps it is the other way round? What I can say is that for us the season ended very early and this coincided with record breaking heat (38.9C on 19th July here)- coincidence or not?

I do not have a camera in the nest box of our 4th pair but my suspicion is that a single adult is feeding a single chick. I do know one of two chicks died in the nest box. I have just seen the adult return with food bolus mixing with twenty or so house martins before descending to the box, but seeing a single swift is so different to watching their communal behaviour. But for now I am assured of seeing those beautiful crescent wings for a couple of weeks or so.

What doesn’t change is my emotions after they have departed. I am very used to this now, but I am always taken by surprise by the relative silence and the melancholy feeling it brings. Swifts’ dramatic aerial activity transforms the ambience of villages and towns for three months of the year. Birdsong is at its quietest at this time in August which accentuates their departure- I await the first late summer robin song as they finish their moult. But, we do have the house martins, their cheerful “chirrups” filling the air, with the fledglings’ slightly deeper “chirrup” particularly good to hear. We arrived home from Anglesey to see little piles of house martin droppings, indicating at least four pairs on second broods, so summer is very much here. For me having house martins lessens the blow of the swift exodus.

The love for swifts has never been greater. They are undoubtedly an iconic bird of summer. Some like to single them out as the greatest bird- I don’t buy that at all and feel we mustn’t think any species is greater than another. Every species is adapted to its own niche in the ecosystem and many are now dependant on how humans act. Swifts are no greater than a blue tit which lands with perfection on the end of a branch to take a tiny caterpillar. But swifts please us, enhancing our lives with their dramatic flying displays and incredible noise and perhaps crucially they are a species we seem to be able to help. This is not so with the beautiful spotted flycatcher, now so scarce – we can put dozens of open fronted nest boxes up, but the flycatchers are gone. We have to start treating all species as we treat swifts.

Images and text copyright Jonathan Pomroy 2022

Below- some highlights of the 2022 swift season

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Swifts, hobby and cuckoo

Swifts often surprise us. I have enjoyed one of the best swift watching mornings of the year in rather cool, cloudy conditions. The youngest non-breeders were flinging themselves at the walls, boxes and house martin nests between 9-11am. This provided me with a superb opportunity to really study swifts clinging to vertical surfaces. The views are usually very brief as they are often seized upon by following birds but as an artist there is a chance to try and capture the character of a swift through its facial expression. There is also an opportunity to see those sharp claws deployed as they grip the walls or nest box.

As a painter I am not trying to record each feather but the impression I have of the swift’s activity. On this sheet I have attempted to capture the chaos that comes with an intense prospecting session. There are some amazing photographs of swifts which I find fascinating to look at, but I am not drawn to use them as reference because most of them are images of swifts that the human eye cannot see- the action is simply too fast to take in every feather or facial detail. So I strive to capture movement and the impression of the shape of a swift and the make up of their flight formations.

On the left hand A3 page I have painted a few sky scenarios as seen this morning. The skies were leaden throughout so the swifts were very dark silhouettes most of the time. A hobby scythed its way across the village in an attempt to catch a house martin or swift, unsuccessful I think; it disappeared behind trees in pursuit of a house martin that dived towards the ground, outcome unknown.

A while later there was a second mass panic. At first I assumed another hobby, but to my surprise they were reacting to a high flying cuckoo which flew north to south. Swifts often get above and behind an aerial predator. They reacted in this way to the cuckoo and escorted it out of the colony airspace. Swifts with a cuckoo, a combination I could never have predicted.

All images and text copyright Jonathan Pomroy 2022

Two A3 pages of my watercolour sketchbook- 21st July 2022 9-11am.
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The hottest day I have ever experienced.

Update- the temperature climbed to 38.8C here on 19th July. All ten swift chicks and six house martin chicks are fine.

I was woken early (4.45am) by eager non-breeding swifts. The adult breeders had already left the nest boxes. There was a delightful coolness in the garden- we were fortunate, after yesterday’s 36.2C heat that the temperature fell to 13C overnight. We have had much warmer nights but we have not had hotter days, ever.

There is plenty of commentary on the science behind this weather and its destructive effect on humans and the natural world. Suffice to say this is a temperature I hoped I would not see, but what else could I do but observe the swift and house martin behaviour in such conditions?

Watercolour does not behave well in this heat. It dries, almost instantly, so the challenge of moving the paint fast saw me drawing very quickly with the brush. An advantage perhaps as observation had to be fast and sharp.

I watched the swifts at first in warm early morning temperatures and knew what to expect as time went on. At what point I wondered, would they start dangling their feet to expose their toes to cooling airflow. I have seen this many times before and always thought that when the temperature reached 28C the first swifts become foot danglers! It proved to be exactly so this morning, then as the temperature continued its brutal rise more and more swifts dangled. I also noticed house martins and tree sparrows doing the same. This was something I was very keen to sketch. Gradually a sheet of studies emerged- as seen below. It gives a snapshot of swift and house martin behaviour on the hottest day in UK recorded history.

Fortunately three out of five house martin pairs have fledged young. They fed high early on, probably not a bad start for these recent fledglings. But below in their baking nests the remaining nestlings panted and gasped for air at the entrance. Swift nestlings seemed to ride it out by keeping largely very still. They spread out in the nest boxes. I have to hope that they make it through the rest of the day before finally cooler temperatures arrive.

The hot weather has brought me undeniable pleasure watching swifts. They perform effortlessly, fuelled by abundant food. I have relished seeing very fast, low passes inches from my face and seen year old birds throwing themselves at the eaves. A new nest box has been entered and others peered into another box giving hope for a further increase at the colony in 2023. So I have accepted this weather for what it is and produced the watercolour below- a sheet of observations on a historic day of weather.

I must mention the skilled rehabilitation workers especially our own Northern rehabbers Linda Jenkinson of Leeds Swifts and Start Birding and Louise Bentley of Bolton and Bury Swifts. They make huge sacrifices and work crazy hours to release healthy swifts and house martins. My thoughts are very much with them as they battle to save lives in this heat. Thank you swift and house martin carers everywhere.

All text and images copyright Jonathan Pomroy 2022

Swift and house martin activity- 19th July. I have never painted a watercolour in such hot conditions before.
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July 11th- swift and house martin diary

So much activity since my last update. Most obvious, particularly this morning, is the return of the younger non-breeders who are putting on quite a show. There has been little direct prospecting or clinging on walls yet, but they have performed countless high speed, low passes. These passes certainly involve the breeders at times as they can be seen swerving off into their nest boxes. The noise is incredible! Their screams a few centimetres from my head at times with the additional sound of the air being ‘split’ by those stiff blade like wings is hard to put into words- it is a sensory feeling that runs right through me. I hope my studies convey some of the excitement of these low passes.

As an artist I relish sketching the dusk sky and to have layers of screaming swifts criss-crossing it is a treat. These evening gatherings, particularly high-level screaming parties, remind me that the main swift season is really in its final quarter. However there is plenty of prospecting time left given good weather- and our first pair here was attracted on 23rd July 2018, they bred the following year. So keep playing those calls if you are attempting to start a colony.

I am reminded watching these young swifts of times when I used to find their behaviour frustrating- why won’t they go in the nest box? But I have seen this so many times that I see it and enjoy it for what it is- swifts choosing a colony to join, then choosing a nest site. They cannot be rushed, it is part of the process of starting a colony unless you happen to be lucky enough to attract a breeding pair straight away. Entering a nest site will come when they are mature enough. Although I would normally recommend playing calls from around 6-10am and 8pm to twilight, very warm or hot weather often sees prospecting at different times, most often perhaps around lunchtime and late in the afternoon. The swifts have energy to burn, fuelled by an abundance of food. As I write I am being continually itched by thrips, money spiders and flea beetles, all of which are part of a swift’s diet- the sky is full of them. We have not had a significant hatch of flying ants yet but we surely will this week. This is another important food source when it happens.

This could be a very testing week for nestlings. The heat is on and forecast to be more extreme towards the weekend. Inevitably some young swifts will jump too soon and already our Northern swift carers are taking birds in- I am in awe of their skill and devotion. Swifts have undoubtedly benefitted from sharing human habitation but this is not always ideal, for example when their attic nest spaces become dangerously warm- it is then that some swifts ‘jump’ too soon, unable to fly.

I am making the most of watching swifts. I cannot resist sketching new angles and of course their sky backdrop. I write about them too jotting down detailed aspects of their behaviour and my emotional response to watching them. I feel an urgency to see them and sketch them before they depart. If the weather flips to be colder next week and stays that way, it is feasible that the young non-breeders may not return until 2023. But given reasonable temperatures here in North Yorkshire we often see prospecting well into August.

House Martins

It is now, as the swift season sees its final few weeks that I am reminded how grateful I am to see the house martins who will be with us into September. Their summery sounds will fill the sky for a couple of months yet. Our first brood has fledged with two more close behind. I was watching the ten or more adults and three fledglings above the house this morning as they ‘swirled’ with about ten swifts. A couple walked past our house on their early morning stroll and the lady remarked “look at the beautiful swifts and martins.” She didn’t know I was tucked in behind our holly with sketchbook and her comment filled me with joy- I am not just doing this for the birds and for me but for anyone who wants to enjoy them, here, in Europe and in Africa.

All images and text copyright Jonathan Pomroy 2022

Swifts and summer cumulus cloud- oil on canvas. Available at Global Birdfair 15-17th July.
Swift studies in watercolour- July 10th, available at Global Birdfair 15-17th July.
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July 4th- swifts battling gusty winds and house martin update

This morning the weather has been very gusty with variable cloud. Initially I thought I had some older non-breeding swifts ‘banging’ on the boxes, but I soon saw that these birds were breeding adults with stuffed throat pouches trying to access their nests. The strong crosswinds did not suit their final approach and I watched many touch and go’s.

My heart almost stopped at times as I watched last second swerves away from the nest boxes, but all aborted attempts were well judged and the swifts eventually entered safely to feed their chicks. Sometimes adults arriving with food bolus for young circled deliberately to wait until the gusts subsided then dived in their boxes during the lull. Swifts although incredibly proficient fliers do not cope well with strong wind when in confined airspace. In this respect the house martins who share our eaves are much more manoeuvrable and able to come and go more freely.

Prospecting swift activity remains very sporadic at best in this area, tempered often by windy or rather cool conditions. Looking at reports across the country I think colonies further south have seen more prospecting days. This would not be surprising as the North being closer to the centre of low pressure systems has generally seen stronger winds and slightly cooler air. The clock is ticking now on the main swift season with less than four weeks to go now for most prospecting activity. I have found that we tend to have some later activity in the north of the UK, often well into August, but we are around two thirds of the way through the swifts’ time with us. Make the most of their presence.

We should see our first lot of house martins fledge this week. They look healthy and strong and ready to fly soon. We still have five pairs breeding(four with nestlings, one incubating) and it is a great joy to see them coming and going, but our house holds I think over half of the village house martin population. Numbers are a shadow of what they were just two years ago.

Young house martins and swifts have a very strange habit. They often call incessantly through the night. I can see no logical explanation for this and it is concerning that they are continually giving their presence away to predators. I have received credible reports of tawny owls predating house martin nests in this area and quite frankly I’m not surprised.

Another key predator of house martins in the nest is the great-spotted woodpecker which hammers open the mud nests to take egg or nestlings.  Predators are natural of course but great-spotted woodpeckers have vastly increased in number over the last couple of decades(partly fuelled by garden feeding) and this is yet another blow to precarious house martin colonies.

In the gusty conditions both species have been hunting for insects in the lee of the woods opposite our house. The nestlings are fed very frequently so this seems to be a very successful technique and shows how they continually adapt to changeable weather conditions.

All text and images copyright Jonathan Pomroy 2022

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June 29th- a fine swift evening!

When the weather is calm and warm, house martins and swifts form a collective swirl above our house. This can include the 15-20 birds that breed on our house, not to mention the swell in numbers when the non-breeding swifts visit. I like to think that it enhances other people’s lives as they wander along our road or see swifts screaming overhead from the Fairfax Arms beer garden!

I have provided some basic information on a sign by our gate so people can read about these birds. It includes a a basic identification chart- hand painted in watercolour of course! I am delighted to say many people stop to read it and take leaflets on swifts and house martins from a holder on our gate. It is perhaps particularly effective because they see the results in front of them as house martins and swifts come and go.

Yesterday evening it was a bit warm, the sort of evening you put on a jumper on at a BBQ! But my older son and I were sat out enjoying a beer and just taking in the scene. Honeysuckle and apple became silhouetted against a glorious twilight sky with breaking, dark Payne’s Grey cloud. We stood on our very solid picnic table and experienced full velocity flypasts within a few centimetres of our faces. Feeling and hearing the air being sliced by those sharp, stiff primary feathers.

As the light faded we suddenly became aware of another face just below the eaves. Tolly whose bedtime was long gone was enjoying the swift action(as well as eaves dropping our conversation!) from the landing window. We must be doing something right!

All text and images copyright Jonathan Pomroy 2022

Frequent flypasts by three swifts around 9.45pm. Very fast and low. Breeders duetting from boxes.
Three swifts in very tight formation. Painting swifts gives me a chance to indulge another passion- painting skies in watercolour.
The sign by our gate.
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Swifts in a typical English summer

We’ve seen some classic English summer this week with a variety of weather ranging from very warm days to cool breezy days and some periods of much needed rain. The youngest non- breeders put on a lovely show for a couple of days in the heat last week but have not returned since, so the colony is largely quiet again. Adults are brooding their week old young quite late into the morning in the cooler conditions to keep them warm, but there seems to be plenty of food coming in from mid morning on. All eight chicks on camera look strong and healthy. There are chicks in a fourth box but I don’t know how many.

The young non-breeders vanished last Friday after ripping up our airspace for a couple of days with their crazy fast passes and mad flings at the wall! The east coast of Yorkshire saw some southerly swift movement on that day. This is almost guaranteed when our yearlings go, but I cannot of course be sure why so many end up on the coast or where exactly they are from. I do know that they will be back when the weather improves from all but the very late July/ early August departures.

Some swifts appear to be bonded in flight before they have a nest site. They follow each other very closely and constantly and make the bonding ‘peep’ call to each other- this call or very similar is heard when birds first enter a nest site together. These pairs sometimes perform a display flight in which they quiver their wing tips while making the bonding call as they approach the eaves. It’s a beautiful flight to watch- often both birds wing quiver and call in unison. These pairs are likely to find a nest site this year and settle without breeding, perhaps building a nest. Such non-breeding pairs being older are now committed to the colony and do not disappear with the yearlings unless the weather is exceptionally bad. I can now watch this potential new pair fitting in to our colony and they have a ‘tagger’ who might be one of our 6th pair. He(?) follows them everywhere as he learns the colony feeding areas in all weathers. This could explain why observers often see flypasts of three swifts?

I have been delighted and moved really by the way this colony has settled down in the last three years- three pairs right next to each other and a fourth on a different side of the house. All were in spectacular screaming flypasts until incubation began, when the skies suddenly turned much quieter as they all started diligently tending to eggs then nestlings. This seems to show the importance of those joint flypasts in cementing the colony as a unit- but as ever this is speculation. 

I was privileged to sketch on stage and talk about my passion for swifts at a Welcome Back Swifts event at the Friends Meeting House, Pickering on Saturday afternoon. There is great work for swift conservation happening in Pickering, with boxes now installed on the North York Moors Railway engine sheds as well as many houses. Swifts were celebrated through painting, poetry, writing, harp music and song. It was a relaxed afternoon celebrating the inspiration and joy that comes from knowing swifts. Depressing statistics of decline were generally avoided and a like minded crowd were immersed in swift adoration. Thank you for inviting me. It was wonderful to see the arts used effectively for conservation.

All images and text copyright Jonathan Pomroy 2022

One of our fifth pair prospecting this morning? I hope.
Sketching on swifts on stage at Friends Meeting House, Pickering at the Welcome Back Swifts afternoon.