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Touching reunions as swifts arrive back in East Anglia

PUBLISHED: 15:12 07 May 2020 | UPDATED: 16:08 07 May 2020

A swift in flight Picture: DAVID MORETON

A swift in flight Picture: DAVID MORETON

David Moreton

Swifts have arrived back in East Anglia, following their annual migration pattern, with Woodbridge Swift Survey spotting the first one in the town on April 24.

“The arrival of swifts in our town is one of the joys of spring and early summer. The first swift sighting is eagerly awaited throughout the UK and indeed throughout Europe,” said Woodbridge Swifts.

“This year, on April 17, a member of the Andalucia Bird Society reported ‘a wonderful passage of swifts at Tarifa on the Straits of Gibraltar with thousands of birds passing over’. So, we knew they were on their way and by April 22, one swift had been spotted at Waldringfield with a pair over Theatre Street in Woodbridge by April 24.

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“But the main arrivals were – as usual – from around May 8 onward. From that point on, all of those with swift nest boxes or with swift nests in their roofs were anxiously watching for ‘their swifts’ to arrive.”

Those lucky enough to have cameras in their boxes got to see touching reunions as the pairs returned after a winter apart.

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But sadly, swifts are in trouble, according to the group.

“Their numbers have declined by half in the past 20 years, mainly due to the renovations and refurbishments of older buildings. Woodbridge Swifts is working with Save Our Suffolk (SOS) Swifts to try to halt this decline.”

With many of its members insolation due to coronavirus, the arrival of the birds has been particularly poignant this year.

Woodbridge Swifts is asking members of the public to look out for swifts, with their short tail and long narrow wings, ‘scythe’ shape and uniform black colour, which can be distinguished from swallows and house martins by their behaviour.

“Circling in so-called ‘screaming parties’, especially in the early morning and evening, they dive close to the eaves of buildings, prospecting for nest sites. Noisier than house martins with their white rumps and swallows with their longer tails, swifts are easily identified by their distinctive calls,” it said.


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