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The swifts are back
and they're difficult to photograph.
We first noticed them here in London about two days ago. Their aerobatics are incredible, the speed at which they chase insects is remarkable, and I absolutely love them.
They’ve arrived from Africa to breed and will head back in the autumn. Each year they migrate a whopping 14,000 miles, and spend ten months of the a year airbourne, eating and sleeping on the wing.
I’ve written before about the challenges that swifts are facing due to the modernisation of homes which is depriving them of nesting places. The RSPB is doing some wonderful work with cities and regions across the UK, showcasing how developers can incorporate swift nesting sites in any construction project.
I had a grand plan for this week’s post to be a showcase of all the wonderful photos I have taken of our local swifts, but most of them turned out like this:
The last couple of years the skies have been thick with them over the wetlands. The images don’t do them justice. To get a sense of their speed and skill you need to get out there and watch them do their thing.
In absence of a good enough recent photograph I’ll leave you instead with these beautiful words from Ruth Pitter.
Flying low over the warm roof of an old barn,
Down in a flask to the water, up and way with a cry,
And a wild swoop and a swift turn
And a fever of life under a thundery sky,
So they go, so they go by.
And high and high and high in the diamond light,
They soar and they shriek in the sunlight when
heaven is bare,
With the pride of life in their strong flight
And a rapture of love to lift them, to hurtle them
High and high in the diamond air.
And away with the summer, away like the spirit of glee
Flashing and calling, and strong on the wing,
and wild in their play,
With a high cry to the high sea,
And a heart for the south, a heart for the diamond
So they go over, so go away.