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Tuesday, 28 August 2007

SWIFTS

This bird soon recovered and flew off, no way I am handling them after seeing the parasites they have .
Looking out on the world beyond


This is just an outline of the Swifts that nest in the loft of my house there are two sites that have been used for some years, one is accessible and one set in the side wall somehow but they do end up in the loft sometimes, at the most accessible nest this year I installed a CCTV complete with infra red light and sound so there was no need to add anything extra in the way of lights etc.
I had tried the camera before installing and it seemed ok it just runs through the video to the TV select the channel AV and hey presto an insight into the world of Swifts, in early may I switched it all on and was surprised to find a House Sparrow had taken up residence and already had four small young which grew rapidly and the picture was great ,but they all disappeared one day and two days later a Swift occupied the nest followed a couple of days after that by a second, both birds spent the night at the nest but vacated during the day, not sure of the actual date of laying as the eggs just not visible, but the first hatch was 17th June with a second on the 18th but this soon died leaving just one, both birds continued to roost at the site every night .
At first growth seemed slow , as you looked in there seemed no change but looking back later in the day after good feeding the change was notable, then the feathering appeared, all activity of note was taped via the video such as the pair preening each other and screaming and the youngster getting stronger and larger , moving around more backing up to the entrance by the 11th July to defecate but not always with accuracy .
Both birds fed the chick one seemed more attentive than the other probably the female but no way to tell them apart, as the youngster got larger and larger it was getting harder to tell the three apart other than the shorter wings of the chick, it became a tight fit for all three, the adults continued to preen each other around the head.
On the 14th July I first noted the testing of wings with vigorous flapping and some good views of the spread wings, the change is fantastic to watch, but compared with the adults the wings had a lot of growing to catch up with the length of the adults which look un-gainly off the wing , I caught many feeds , change overs and other behaviour on tape and by the start of August the young bird spent more and more time at the entrance, partly to catch the adult as it entered and partly to look out onto the world beyond, it could now be seen from the outside as well as the inside on the monitor.
5th August and I had left early with no chance to check the nest and when I returned later the nest was empty , I suppose I did not expect to see it leave expecting it to go out with perhaps the female, it was not till later and I thought I should have put in a long play tape and just recorded as long as I could to catch its exit, just like I should have also put in a calendar clock in front of the camera so that I would have a date and time stamp on the video when I recorded any activity.
So that seemed to be the end Swifts had left from above the gardens and I thought that’s it for this year, but on the 9th August I could hear a bird trapped on the loft hatch door, my first thought was this is the youngster trapped and it has not fledged, so with box in hand I opened the door and down slides a Swift into the box,( not the first bird I have taken out)
I took it outside and propped it o the wall with the intention of getting a couple of photos before it recovered itself , but a neighbour came over and as I explained what I was upto the bird flew off
Now as this was an adult there where one or two possibilities 1 the bird had been in the loft for a few days. or 2 its the adult from the second nest so I listened for the next couple of days and sure enough could here something in the loft , so with net and box I entered the loft to find two youngsters above the second nest site so I left and was relieved to see an adult go in later that same day ,checked out the loft on the 12th & 13 th with no sign of the young , I should have moved the camera so I could check on them but did not want to disperse them from the site so left it, before next year I will improve the access for the birds to this site from the outside as I have watched them make a couple of attempts before landing in the right spot to get in.
So again thought that’s it but one night (13th) I put on the camera to see if perhaps the House Sparrows had returned to the empty site and was surprised to find two Swifts both looked like adults ,these came back on the next few nights till the 16th when only one bird which was gone by 9 the next day , so that was my theory that the young would accompany the adults after fledging dispelled, but why did they come back some form of pair bonding before they depart south , May 2008 seems a long way off till they return !!!!!!.

2 comments:

Boulmer Birder said...

Hello Brian, those pests on the Swifts are the largest species of Flatfly. They are host specific living only on Swifts. House Matins have some belters too.

Brian said...

Yes everbody says that they only live on Swifts but after seeing how many are crawling around on them , always keeping just ahead of the bird as it preens , it gives me the creeps and I just dont want them running up my arm to find out I am not a Swift.
Still a fantastic bird though, looking forward to next year.