It has been a very busy swift day, distracting as I tried to prepare for tomorrow’s Meet the Artists event at Nunnington Galleries. Each time I tried to start something the swifts screamed in again, I find it impossible to ignore them!
The birds in the sky today were probably some of the youngest swifts in the air, some almost certainly fledged last summer. I noticed small groups dropping to eaves across the village at completely new sites where no swift nests exist. These younger parties seem to roam around; when they arrive at your colony they criss cross everywhere piling into the eaves and making high speed passes, but within a few minutes they can vanish completely having moved on to look at another potential colony to join.
Older non breeding birds lingered around the colony for most of the day, prospecting seriously at times. This included some examples of single birds prospecting. I think these are the birds(males?) that are really serious about finding a nest site. Having done so they will attempt to lure a mate in, perhaps this year, but quite possibly waiting until next year. Some non-breeding pairs build a nest together to use the next year but alternatively some single birds enter a nest site and lure a mate in the following year.
Meanwhile our second pair of swifts is 15 days into incubation and by swift standards collecting ridiculous amounts of nest material. They were coming in today with pieces of grass at least 30cm long, bunched at times. These pieces of grass were probably gathered when lifted by the wind from a freshly cut field or roadside verge. Swifts stop nest building as soon as the young hatch but this pair has added more material than I have seen in any other nest I have watched. There are feathers and grass strewn across the nest box.
Meet the Artists event at Nunnington Galleries
I will be showing many swift sketches along with other bird sketches and plenty of landscapes at Nunnington tomorrow and Sunday, open 11am- 4pm each day. If you are in the area do come and chat. It is always a pleasure to talk about swifts; I feel very fortunate that my art has become a useful tool in my own efforts to conserve swifts and other species.
Here is a small selection of the work on show this weekend. I will be sketching swifts on the spot as long as Nunnington’s swifts perform!