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July 12th – swift diary

Swift Diary

A precious couple of days of swift watching. The non breeding birds arrived back yesterday morning after their two week exodus during the recent cool weather. There has been lots of screaming which usually starts just before 5am. I am instantly woken by their shrill screams. It is a wonderful awakening which happens for a few weeks each year. I jump out of bed, make a coffee and go out to the studio where I can see most of the nest boxes.

Our two chicks are looking really good with their all important wing feathers growing rapidly. In a little over two weeks they will be flying south to Africa. The coming week is looking reasonable weatherwise so hopefully the most difficult weather for swifts is behind us now. This has seen a lot of chicks malnourished, with many sadly perishing. I hope better weather will encourage more prospecting. This morning birds were landing on some boxes and peering into the occupied box quite frequently. It was wonderful to watch their dramatic approaches towards the eaves. I made some sketches of their approach to land and of the way they ‘drop’ away to gain flying speed.

We had a wonderful view of the Neowise comet yesterday evening. Bats flew around us and little and barn owls called nearby. The swift chicks call all night long. I have never understood this. At a time when most species stay very quiet young swifts continuously trill in their nests.

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