A grim day for swifts! Our breeding pair hardly went out of the nest box in the morning. They covered as best they could their two large chicks. When they did go out they fed very low at head height over vegetation.
There were impressive accounts of birds moving on the east coast today, this time from Gibraltar Point in Lincolnshire where more tha 45000 birds were recorded going south. Further to this there were big movements recorded at a watchpoint in the Netherlands. Could this be the missing link? I have always thought that with cooler weather non breeding swifts from well inland in the UK move east to the east coast on a broad front, generally unnoticed. But they become concentrated when they hit the coast which is a south bound highway to warmer weather- ultimately the continent. Probably over East Anglia they head out to sea and arrive in the Netherlands.
They return with warmer weather, but on a broad front, possibly high up and appear back around colonies like magic! This can happen several times in a summer, though of course eventually they will move south for the winter as breeding adults start to depart. So if we see an improvement in the weather I am confident that the non breeding swifts will return to enliven our colonies again. But for now the skies are very quiet.
Here is the link to the south bound migration watch point in the Netherlands.