A wonderful day of swift watching, thus far. The new incubating pair brought in lots of nest material today. These are perfect conditions for nest building swifts. It was warm but more significantly it was windy. Materials get blown into the air and held there in warm updrafts so at times the swifts were returning with long strands of grass up to c30cm long, giving them a long-tailed silhouette. Another favourite nest material is feathers and frequently they returned with a white feather in beak. This gives them a moustached look especially as they approach head on.
There was an arrival of younger birds today, their behaviour different to the older non breeders. There were lots of fast screaming parties and more random visits to the eaves. I think it will be a very noisy later this evening in the garden as these young birds join with some breeders to show their aerial prowess. Exactly a year ago we had a big arrival of non breeding swifts. I had so many low level fast passes during the evening that I began counting. They were generally made up of 3-7 swifts and incredibly I recorded 104 fly pasts below eaves height in the two hours before dusk!
With more younger birds around watch for the dusk ascent of non breeding swifts going to roost and the late return of breeders as they drop down into their nests. The breeders have regularly been coming in to roost at 10.20pm or later in recent days. Those with chicks often leave for a last forage at 10.10pm or even later. Enjoy every moment of these mid summer swift evenings, in our garden we watch dozens of pipistrelles emerge from a neighbour’s roof before the swifts have retired. Song thrushes sing late as the tawny owls tune up and the scent of honeysuckle fills the warm air.