Thursday, 17 May 2018

Where Are the Swifts?

Mid-May and something's wrong. Despite warm and sunny weather, the swifts seem to have deserted our road. Last year they lost no time in settling down, and by now were performing their glorious screaming flypasts and dizzying ascents every day. By the end of the season their numbers were higher than they'd been for several years, and our hopes (my next-door neighbour is a fellow swift fan) were high for another good year when they returned. But no. Since the first sightings, punctual to their usual arrival date, I have seen only ones and twos, either in transit or circling aimlessly, and have only heard the telltale scream a couple of times. The other day one bird was flying purposefully close to the gable of a house down the road, but nothing seems to have come of it.
  What is happening? Is it the same in other places? (Bristol is certainly having a very odd start to the season.) In my travels around South London and Surrey, I've seen very few swifts, martins or swallows – even on the river at Kingston. Is this just a stuttering start to the season, or is something more ominous going on? I'd be interested to hear from anyone who's noticed a similar mysterious lack of swifts – and delighted to hear from anyone who's having a good start to the swift year.

8 comments:

  1. only seen one swallow on our farm here in cornwall and no swifts so far!

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  2. Well..........I almost got knocked off my bike crossing the Serpentine in Hyde Park yesterday by a swarm - that's the only word for it - of screaming swifts. Maybe they've all moved to Kensington. Clever chaps.

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  3. Kensington eh? Well I can't say I blame them.
    Meanwhile a hopeful sighting this morning of a circling pair looking as if they might mean business. They should be settled and laying their eggs by now though...

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  4. And now there are nine circling overhead! Looks like the season has begun, at last...

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  5. The sky is black with them, as usual, down here in La La Land....

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