Our Swift Walk at Henley-in-Arden, 28th June 23

Despite dire warnings of thunderstorms and torrential downpours, a dozen of us joined Jane Evans as she led us on a tour of the southern colony of swifts that had returned to Henley for 2023. While skies were grey, the rain held off long enough for us to see most of the swifts in the area. They indulged in some wonderful aerobatics as a number of them flew fast and low around the rooftops. We suspect some were looking to enter their nest holes but we felt our presence at one point was putting them off.

As we continued later into the evening, we did see several actually fly in to their nests. You had to be alert though, as the dive to low level, followed by and almost vertical climb as they approached the nest at some speed, before seemingly disappearing, would happen in the blink of an eye. The nest holes they entered were really quite small, and we could only marvel at how they could hit such a small target at that speed. Jane pointed out a number of nest holes, which were often marked by a faint white streak just below. Unlike the sparrows and starlings whose entrances were distinctly marked with many whitish streaks.

It was dissapointing to find that a number of nests which had been in use until recent years, were unoccupied this year. However we did notice that one of the new build houses had been fitted with no less than 4 swift boxes, a sign that the building industry is starting to do its bit to help. We also found a couple of nests that were being used that Jane was unaware of, which suggests that there are new birds nesting this year, possibly ones born 3 to 4 years earlier in the same street. We had almost completed the walk when the heavens opened. Despite the rain we viewed some of the nest boxes that had been fitted last year, before scurrying back to the car park. It was an informative and enjoyable walk and we could recommend anyone who was unable to get there to join one of Jane’s other walks, scheduled for later in the summer.

Jane’s other walks are on 4th, 13th and 18th July, and all start from the Medical Center Car Park at 7:30pm. Note that they won’t take place if its raining as there will be no swifts flying. Phone her before 6pm on the day on 01564 794323 if you would like to attend.

Its Swift awareness week from 1st to 9th July, and lots more info can be found on the RSPB’s community pages at https://community.rspb.org.uk/ourwork/b/actionfornature/posts/swift-awareness-week-2023-people-powered-swift-conservation?utm_source=notes_on_nature_20230624&utm_medium=email&utm_term=notes_on_nature&utm_content=13&utm_campaign=notes_on_nature