Tuesday 5 May 2020
First Swift of 2020
Do you see the swifts are here again?
They swoop so low and soar so high
I think there may be more than ten -
do you see the swifts are here again?
We know it's summer round here when
our favourite bird comes gliding by
You see the swifts are here! Again
they sweep so low and soar so high!
I saw my first swift of the year today! Not from our living room window as I would expect (we live near a good number of swift nests) but while we were walking round one of the local cemeteries on our #DailyExercise walk. This is a few days earlier than the first sighting last year! Hopefully soon these wonderful birds will once again be flying round our building!
Swifts only visit Scotland for just over three months in the year (May to August) and spend the rest of the year flying down to Africa and then round and round Africa before coming back to the same nest site. They only land when they're nesting, when the young leave the nest they remain airborne for three or four years before they make their first nest! Swifts are declining in the UK for a number of reasons but one is the lack of nest sites - they nest in holes in walls and under roofs and these days these holes are often blocked up when buildings are renovated. The City of Edinburgh Council (and some other councils in the UK) advise that swift bricks be used in new buildings over a certain height (a swift brick is a brick that is hollow inside and includes an entrance hole so that the swifts can enter the nest) but they can't enforce this.
Some links about swifts
Swift starter kits and how adding ‘nest forms’ to swift boxes makes common swifts more than four times more likely to use the boxes - read more on Mark Avery's blog here.
Celebrating swifts with the RSPB here.
Instructions on how to make a nest box for swifts from the RSPB here.
A very impressive example of swift nestboxes installed in industrial buildings in the Netherlands. The article is in Dutch, but the photos are worth looking at, even if you don't understand Dutch.
My poem 'Waiting for Swifts' has now been published by Poetry Kit as part of their 'Poetry of the Plague Year'. You can read it here.