Thursday 14 August 2014

The Swifts Desert Us Only Slowly

Last night as I cycled home from walk, I was heading along Balderton Gate, when a familiar aerial scimitar suddenly flashed down in front of my nose, before heading off to the South over the sheltered housing, inhabitants oblivious, and probably envious if they had seen it.

It was a swift. Mid August and they are still around, although in very small numbers. There was a day last week when I didn’t see a swift and pronounced “Well, that’s all the swifts gone then, they know the weather is turning grim” only to see a largish flock of them making merry over Millgate the next day eating every gnat out of the sky.

Cunning little apodids.

These birds mean so much to me. I find their antics endlessly engaging, and their appearance in April the second harbringer of spring, after the emergence of citrine bright brimstone butterflies. And then their departure, normally a sudden one at the end of July / Beginning of August is a doomy sign of the approaching colder months and terrifying bicycle rides to work in snow and ice. They melt away with the sunset, not to be seen until next April, as the chill begins to bite a little.

It’s not been like that this year. 13th August and they are still about, large numbers have been reported over RSPB Langford Lowfields. It may be that the strong South-Westerly winds has delayed their migration, and now the wind has switched to a cool North-Westerly this may help them take flight for their winter holiday. It may be that the individual I saw yesterday was the last I will see.

This makes me sad. For nothing I will see in Autumn or Winter will have the same joy of flight, and screech of life, as the sickle winged swift of Summer.

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