Sunday, 7 June 2015

Our 2014 Swift Records

Below is a summary of our Swift records for 2014, showing the arrival and departure dates.

Monday May 5th 2014

2000hrs approx - At least 3 of the Burton Swifts have arrived back.

Tuesday 6th May 2014

2000hrs approx - We now have 8 Swifts back on territory at Burton In Kendal.

Wednesday 7th May 2014

0945hrs approx  At least 7 Swifts recorded flying at intermediate levels (75ft approx) with at least 5 flying with a probable bias to the Royal/Manor House (Burton In Kendal) airspace

1930hrs approx - 7 of our Swifts screaming whilst in "follow my leader pursuit" at the 75ft altitude showing a bias over the Royal/Manor House (Burton In Kendal) airspace.

20th May 2014

Reg kindly sent me photo's of a poor House Martin which he found dead just outside his house in Burton In Kendal.  You can see within the photos that the poor bird was infested with blood sucking nasties! in fact they are common parasites within the "hirundine" or Swift communities.

On this poor creature there had been six of these nasties which would quickly dash back to cover within the birds feathers on handling the dead bird.  I tried to check out what they where from my insect reference books, but nothing showing.

I was able to find out further information from the good old internet and their latin classification is "Crataerina pallida" or more commonly called the "hippobosid fly" or "louse Fly" or "Keds".

I at one time used to accompany a bird ringer who had licence to ring Swifts and more often than not when caught and handled you would see the birds with several of a unidentified "irridescence beetle" which would quickly scurry back under the birds feathers on handling. Without doubt these beetles were of African origin and I wonder now if these "louse flies" are also of African origin.

Getting back to the Crataerina, a very interesting report comes from a .pdf file I read from the East Hyde Historic Bird Reports dated 7th June 1934 and it reports about a Swift and quotes "Of interest a bird seen to drop dead out of the sky, which contained over 20 blood sucking flies of the order Crataerina pallida" 

I have already seen other photographs on the net showing exactly the same thing present on House Martins, but would love to know more information in regards to these creatures. It would be nice to have it confirmed that they are of African origin and travel to and fro with the birds during their long migrations, this is what I think must be the case, but any offers of further information on the subject would be most welcome.

For now check out the interesting photos:

Photos: Reg Hesketh  -  Dead House Martin infested with Crataerina pallida or "hippobosid fly" or "louse-fly" or "Keds"

Saturday 14th June

Its that time of the year again, when the Burton Swift Group (Jane, Reg and myself) start doing our weekly checks on our local Swift populations and their nesting sites in our village of Burton In Kendal in Cumbria.

We check the status of nesting sites from our previous years records, so we are busy making notes and comparing, and adding to monitor differences etc, and generally for us to try and study our local birds who give us so much pleasure in the short few weeks they are with us.

Last night we managed to witness at least six sites being used of which one was a totally new site for our records.  And even more pleasing was to see a bird nesting in a gable end wall which has currently got scaffold erected, and it was great to see that the birds were not being "put off" by the scaffold and where able to negotiate access without problem.

It is really rewarding watching the Swifts and their behaviour, and so we are intending to do another visit next week on Friday 20th June.  We are meeting up at 2130hrs at the Burton Memorial Hall and we would very much welcome anyone who may wish to come along and join us.  The more there monitoring these beautiful birds the better.

Monday 21st July 2014

On Friday evening last the village "Burton Swifts Group" had their weekly meet to monitor the local Swifts, checking out the various nest sites along the Main Street within the village and it was a special time having established a further three sites (of which two we were not aware of before although we did have a suspicion of one of them).  Its always very difficult to actually count the Swifts in the sky, but we did agree that possibly there could have been at least 23 birds up in the air at once and you would see parties of between 10 and 15 birds coming low in follow my leader fashion, whilst screaming as Swifts do.  Further monitoring is planned for next Friday evening when at 2100hrs we shall be meeting outside the Burton Memorial Hall and everyone is welcome to attend and enjoy these "marvels".

Monday 4th August 2014

Most of our village (Burton In Kendal) Swifts left us on or around Tuesday July 29th 2014. The last high count had been 41 birds seen flying overhead (locally) on the previous Friday July 25th 2014.  On Friday last (August 1st 2014), we still had 11 birds flying overhead with two birds seen to enter their nest site on the cottages adjoining the Post Office.

It has been a national trend this year that most of the Swifts throughout the Country are departing back to Africa at least one week to ten days earlier than they normally would do.

Friday 8th August 2014

The last 2 Swifts were seen flying over the village today and we never saw them again after this date.  We wish them a safe journey....

2014 Notebook notes:

Showing a sketch of the nest sites in Burton.  Which we visited on a regular basis during the birds stay with us.