On Saturday evening a pair of swifts focused intensely on the rear of the house. The lead bird was seen to land regularly on a box next to pair 2, eventually going in. It tried several times to lure the mate in. She(?) banged the box several times but failed to enter. I think the first bird roosted, but when they roost alone these birds often leave the nest box in the dark to roost aloft.
Next morning the pair was soon reunited and both entered the box. They settled quickly and certainly look to be a third pair for our house as they are still in and out today. It is thrilling to see the colony expand with more swifts still passing the boxes today. The flypast activity today is superb despite rain and cloud and it really feels like I am watching the makings of a solid colony. This is the fourth house we have lived in where we have started swift colonies- Westwood, Wiltshire and Thornton in Craven, Ampleforth and Gilling East in North Yorkshire. In all cases I had nesting swifts within two years. I have stuck to the same basic box designs, roughly shoe box sized with slightly varying front entrance designs.
I experimented this year, playing calls softly on the opposite side of the house to the breeders. Swifts did look here, but both new pairs have chosen boxes next to each other to the right of the breeders- on the opposite side from the calls. I really dislike listening to recorded swift calls and I will not be playing them at all from now on- it was clear to me this year that the pull of an existing pair is far greater. They are of course really useful, essential in most cases for first attracting swifts.
The latest pair is in a Schwegler 17 box. This type has been a consistent favourite, of bought designs. All my boxes in Wiltshire and three different villages in North Yorkshire have used a front entrance design. This seems to offer an advantage of good visibility as the birds leave and when entering they fly straight in without clinging or perching.
Meanwhile our most established pair has young about twenty days old and our second pair which first visited the box on 9th June is incubating eggs due to hatch in about three days time. It has been a very successful season here with a good increase and fantastic stable weather through June, unlike the challenging conditions of the same period in 2020.
July has started wet with 55mm of rain already, but it has been warm and non breeding birds have not had to move away as they did in late June 2020 (for two weeks). I am relishing every flypast mindful that the mass departure of swifts is now less than a month away.
House Martin Diary
Our two pairs are successfully feeding young. One nest should see young fledge within the next day or two. To my knowledge this will be the first nest to fledge young in the village this year. Numbers remain very low although for the first time in days there were signs of prospecting by a pair. Perhaps very late arrivals or birds from a failed nest?
The spotted flycatchers fledged last week. It looks like they will try for a second brood with the male singing by the nest site again. This pair wasted no time, nest building and laying in poor conditions in May and so this has left them plenty of time to raise another brood. What a privilege to be so close to these now scarce summer visitors. Their quiet presence and beautiful flight is an absolute joy.