Bristol Swifts blog of activity and observations of the swift colony around our house in Bristol in 2017. For details of the location of each occupied box see Swift nest box location on our house. See 2016 Blog and 2015 Blog for previous years activity.
Saturday 25th March
The first couple of House Martins arrived yesterday at Portland Bill.
This morning on the way to the paper shop I heard my first Chiffchaff singing. Its familiar tink-tank call coming out of the scrub next to the river Trym, a favourite place nesting.
More signs of spring back in the back garden, a pair of Blue Tits and Wrens have just started nest building. The Blue Tits have chosen a box on the conifer tree whilst the Wrens have picked a dense woody bush. It seems a bit back to front this year as it’s normally the Blackbirds who are the first to start nesting, followed by the Robins, then the Blue Tits and Wrens.
A large garden queen Bumblebee (Bombus Hortorum) has moved into one of my bee boxes. I saw it enter it for the first time a few days ago and yesterday it was still going in. It’s an old bird box of mine which I have stuffed full of straw and placed on the ground near to the patio.
Monday 20th March
The first Swallows have just arrived at Portland Bill. A group of 4 were seen on the 16th.
More and more summer migrants are coming in each day. Mostly Chiffchaffs, Wheatears and Black Redstarts, whose numbers were all in double figures, but also mixed in with them a sprinkling of Blackcaps, Willow Warblers and Yellow Wagtails.
Sunday 12th March
An Alpine swift was sighted flying over Cork in Ireland on Friday, which is way too far north. Its normal habitat is the southern countries of Europe, mainly Spain, Italy and Greece and as its name suggests the lower regions of the Alps.
The last few days have been really spring-like and with it has brought a few welcome guests. I saw my first Peacock and Red Admiral butterflies yesterday and at least a dozen queen bumblebees. There’s been a pair of Blackcaps in the garden for about a week with the male singing it’s beautiful song from deep inside a thick pyracantha bush. And our pond is full of mating frogs and toads, much to the Herons delight who is a regular early morning visitor.
News from Portland Bill; the first Wheatears are just arriving together with a handful of Chiffchaffs and Black Redstarts. I normally hear my first Chiffchaff around the 3rd week in March so not long now to wait.
Sunday 26th Feb
News from Israel, the first swifts are BACK.
Amnonn Hahn who lives in Givatayim a small town on the outskirts of Tel Aviv reports his first pair of swifts returned today. The first one arrived at 8.38am followed by it’s mate later that day at 8.39pm. Follow their progress via a live webcam link here.
Swifts always arrived in Israel first, usually in the last week of February. Unfortunately it’ll be another 8 or 9 weeks before they reach us. Still that’s plenty of time to think about putting up a box or two.
Reminder – if you want a free swift MP3 attraction call just email me via the contact page.
Our Garden Open Days in 2017.
If you like visiting gardens why not come and see our swifts at the same time.
We are opening our garden for charity on two consecutive Sunday afternoons in the summer. Come and wander around our wildlife friendly garden and see Live video from inside our swift nest boxes. There are also lots of plants for sale with proceeds donated to local swift rehabber Gillian Westray.
Sunday 25th June – National Gardens Scheme – 2-5pm – Admission £3.00.
Sunday 2nd July – Stoke Bishop Open Gardens – 1-5pm – Admission £5.00 for 5-6 local gardens.
If you are interested then contact us for details.
Here is an excellent booklet on swifts The Breeding Behaviour of the Swift by David and Elizabeth Lack. Use arrow on pdf to rotate it, in order to read.