Swift Watching this Summer

In these troubled times the return of the swifts will bring especial joy, with perhaps also a little envy of their careless freedom as they wheel over our streets and countryside. While we humans remain in lockdown I have a suggestion for a pleasurable birding activity which you can incorporate into your local exercise walk, and stay safe and within the law as well. It’s simply this. Look out for your local swifts.

A few have already arrived in Kidlington after their long journey from Africa, and quite possibly there will be some near you. If you see any flying low over roof tops, possibly making screaming calls as they pass, please note where they are. No other British bird behaves like this. It’s an indication there are nest sites nearby. You might even be lucky enough to spot one returning to its nest hole under the eaves of a building.

Why are we interested? Well, the population of swifts is more than 50 per cent lower than it was 25 years ago. They need our help. Having these records can help swift conservation by increasing our knowledge of local populations, enabling us to protect a nest site or lobbying for new ones.

We would welcome records of your sightings of:

  • screaming parties and low-flying swifts
  • birds at nests
  • large numbers of birds feeding over wetlands

Enjoy. Take care. Thank you.

Chris Mason, Cherwell Swifts Project

To report Kidlington sightings: Liz Moore, Kidlington Swifts Group, liz3moore@hotmail.com
To report sightings elsewhere/more info/swift nest-box installations: Chris Mason, mason@cando.eclipse.co.uk

Did you know …?
Swifts spend their entire lives in the air except when they’re nesting.
They drink, eat, sleep and mate on the wing!