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Swift and Swallow migration - a letter from C.Gray.

I am really worried!

This year as with every year, summer really doesn’t start until the swifts arrive.

Usually they appear mid to early May, dipping and diving at incredible speed above our little Warwickshire town. Our town is predominately medieval/Elizabethan timber framed houses, many of them still sporting their open eaves and perfect swift nesting roof voids. There are also a good number of outbuildings at the rear of properties which have been used year after year by a long generation of swift families.

This year though, there has been no shrill swift calls and no large aerial displays like other years. In fact we have only noticed 3 or 4 pairs as opposed to the usual 30 or 40 pairs.

The swift nursery we purpose built 7 years ago in our roof void is empty and as May turns to June we are losing hope that they are so mehow delayed and will soon arrive.

We are located in South Warwickshire,  The loss of this magnificent and heart lifting bird, that has graced our skys and is part of our towns historical past, probably from before the time of Shakespeare, is devastating.

Has anybody else experienced a significant drop in the swift/swallow population? Is it possible that they are late arriving this year due to world weather and climate changes (ie volcano eruption, earthquake, tsunami, etc.)?

Could it be the re-introduction of certain birds of prey to the UK? (I have noticed a huge increase in the population of Red Kites on the outskirts of Oxford and they can be seen hovering in large numbers as you drive through on the M40 Oxford to London. They are magnificent birds, but could they be contributing to the loss of our summer migrationary birds?)

Although I know the loss of nesting sites has made it difficult for them in this country, because of the ideal nesting sites we have in our Town, I would not have expected such a dramatic drop as this. I’d love to hear that Swifts are still in abundance elsewhere in the country as without our resident summer aerial performers, the usual festive spirit that accompanies the many street and folk festivals we have in our town, lacks their usual lustre.

Kind regards,

C. Gray

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