Daily blog from Gilling East

June 28th- low swallow numbers and swift diary

I am hearing of so many collapsed or diminished swallow colonies. I can think of several nest sites where they no longer nest. To hear so many people reporting low numbers is very worrying.

Swift Diary
Very little to report at the colony. The non breeding birds have gone leaving the adults to come and go feeding their young. Both chicks are starting to open their eyes. They look prickly, covered in masses of waxy feather sheaths. They have tiny wings now which are starting to sprout those massive wing feathers. The wind has been very strong today but it has been warm enough for the adults to leave their chicks who now have an insulating layer of down on their bodies.

The east coast has seen huge movements of swifts today. Top of the swift movement league was the Filey area where at Muston Sands Mark Pearson and Keith Clarkson recorded well over 16000 swifts in the first half of the morning. There is much debate about the origin of these birds which are mainly birds born last year. It will be interesting to study weather maps in more detail and to speculate as to the exact reason for this movement. However I do think that they are not going for good. These south bound movements on the east coast happen in most summers and are always weather related. Strong south westerly winds associated with a deep summer low pressure system has forced the non breeders to move south for now, but given a change to warmer conditions they will return on unseen northerly passage to delight us with their aerial acrobatics.

What I do know is that each time we lose our non breeding swifts, movements down the east coast begin. There seems to be a sort of conveyor belt of swifts moving to warmer conditions further south.

Swallow fluffed up in cold wind.

Below. Single breeding swift in grey skies.


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