I started the day by sketching, soon after 5am. The local little owls were as obliging as ever. I sketch them at a range of about 100m, great views through the telescope. The owls puff up their feathers when resting but pull them close when alert. I can see our house from this spot and by 6.30am I could see swifts screaming past our eaves. The owls would have to wait, they are here all year round and the swifts will be gone in under two weeks.
I ran home with all my all sketching clobber and optics to experience a very low flypast of five swifts. The air over their wings clearly audible as they passed. What followed was another morning of swift magic! The air was still and by 9am serious prospecting began. All the while one of our chicks peered out of the nest box entrance. Swifts were impossible to count. There were around ten at times and action switched to the front of our house- the opposite side to the breeding birds.
They came fast and low over my head as they approached the eaves. Momentum built and a bird started to land on nest box 6. Then a confident approach and it went in. For anyone attracting swifts seeing a new box entered for the first time is a very big moment! The nest box was right by our bedroom window too. Of course this is only one bird going in and breeding is a long way off but it is a huge milestone on the way to our second pair. It stayed in for a few minutes then returned several times. I am overjoyed watching swifts today and I kept sketching their wonderful flight shapes particularly those spectacular stoops towards the eaves.
Rain arrived soon after midday and the afternoon was quiet. Bird song is much reduced now. I heard a slight blackbird warble this morning but don’t expect to hear their glorious fluty notes again until next spring. Even the song thrushes are easing off now, robins are silent too. The breeding season for most birds has now ended and they have a few months of plenty ahead of them before short cold days return.
Below. Swift enters the nest box! Sketches of swifts approaching and leaving the eaves.
Below. Swift at dusk. A single swift glides over the garden before descending to roost in the nest box.