Swifts

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I am reliably informed that something may have gone wrong last week so I am reposting this blog.  I still haven’t seen any swifts, but have spotted both swallows and martins. If you spot one of these birds and it is on a telegraph wire – it is definitely not a swift.

I am on Swift watch and listen. There distinctive screaming is a true summer sound.

These birds are due to appear any day now. At least one has been at Chew Valley Lake, but here they have usually appeared on May 6th. This year I have volunteered to try to count and locate their nests. I have a sneaky feeling that this will be harder than I think but as they are only here for 3 months, it won’t be too onerous. A few fascinating facts about these birds.

  1. They fly very quickly – one bird flew 1,300km in 3 days – 425km a day – ie Bristol  to Belfast in a day. That’s up to Easy Jet standard.
  2. They only land to nest. So they sleep and mate as they fly!
  3. They are long-lived – unless they get shot over Malta / France / Europe.
  4. Like swans they mate for life.
  5. They are not related to swallows and martins, but strangely  related to hummingbirds.
  6. It is almost impossible to tell the sexes apart – even when held in the hand.
  7. They have almost no legs and tiny feet due to adaptations for flying.

So what plants do I have in my garden to remind me of these birds. Well the wonderfully fast growing Swift potatoes bought from Wilkos. These are up and growing really well. Apparently I will be swiftly tucking into delicious early new potatoes by the end of May. I can’t see any flower buds yet, but I’ve already earthed them up, so it won’t be long.

When you spot these amazing birds please can you record the date and location as the RSPB are concerned and anyone can help. Google RSPB swift and submit your information. Accurate data helps the RSPB discover ways of protecting birds.

Take care over the next few nights with predictions of frost – throw an old sheet etc over any delicate plants / fruit trees – the blossom has been fantastic, it will a shame not to have any fruit due to the frost.

Finally Happy Hyggering – recall and enjoy those memories as you water your garden.

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