A Swift Update…

The one about finding Swift nests in Falsgrave…

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30Days Wild Day 22

Today, the short walk from Falsgrave Road to the office proved immensely satisfying.  It takes all of eight to ten minutes to make this journey but for weeks I have been enjoying the screaming antics of Swifts wheeling about the skies over St John’s Road and Wykeham Street. Usually there are between six and fourteen birds. This may sound rather approximate, but when they are scything the big blue above at breakneck speed, sometimes disappearing from sight behind rooftops, crossing over and changing position very quickly it is remarkably difficult to get an accurate count of even modest numbers.

So today imagine how chuffed I was finally to see, as I slowly walked the street tracking the circling swifts, a bird make for a roofline and fleetingly stop at the edge of the roof, then fall back and fly away again. I think this was a parent Swift delivering a mouthful of midges (or some such aerial fodder) to the nest, perhaps to young poking their heads out. You don’t get long. Visits to the nest are brief and not all that frequent. To then find two more further along the street was wonderful.

Swift nests are tricky to find. In fact before this season, I think I have in my birding life only on two occasions witnessed a swift enter a nest hole on a building. They were purely chance events, when I happened to be looking in the right place at the exact moment. If a swift enters a nest site it squeezes inside and out of sight. The gaps they enter are almost imperceptible from ground level. Not like a house martin nest which is clearly visible under the eaves. When it emerges again its getaway lives up to the bird’s name. You only have fleeting moments to see one go into a nest or deliver food and fly on. As birds that spend virtually their whole lives on the wing, even sleeping in snatched moments during flight, to witness them land on a building and squirm into an unsuspected void feels a real privilege.

Author: Tim Burkinshaw

I work in ecology and biodiversity in North Yorkshire. I'm often found outdoors snapping nature and landscapes or spotting birds. Always aspiring to be a better naturalist, but I have a particular thing for wetlands. As a gardener I enjoy having my hands in the earth, and getting the perfect mix of greens and browns in my compost! As a Daddy I'm somewhere between pretty good and awesome. On a good day. If you spot me and my hat in real life or on social media do say hello!

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