I used to film a breeding pair in our old pad in Reading and I've spent over ten years now desperately trying to get them to nest in our post-war house, something they very often just won't do, swifts.
I've spent hundreds of pounds on boxes and tools and materials. Given them four or five spaces and boxes (internal and external) to nest in, called them in with especially-recorded MP4 calls played on amplifiers bought from the far east and set on expensive timers.
And we've had some interested swifts over the years - especially in the quiet lockdown summer of 2020, when one swift (at least) explored our internal attic space.
For the last two years, certainly the last one, I've noticed "our" swifts that we've literally called and attracted into our area, checking out the school buildings opposite. School buildings also built in 1953. Like our house.
And this year... well... I only bleedin' well think they're nesting there in the school buildings opposite, don't I? Well... they're either nesting or they're "dry-running" (*see above for an explanation of what "dry-running" means in terms of swifts).
Look... I'm really glad they're now "locked in" to our post war area. Swifts are almost always very reticent to nest or even explore post war buildings for potential nest sites for a couple of reasons:
1) They are slow to colonise new areas and new breeders tend to breed where or around where they were born. And that, historically, obviously, is pre war areas.
2) Post war houses and buildings tend to be smaller and neater with fewer nesting spaces (plastic soffits, neater tiles etc).
Yes... I AM glad they are now have exploited a new breeding territory. And I have no doubt that my MP4 calls over the last 10 years have made that possible. Without me calling the best birds of all down from the sky each May - they simply wouldn't be anywhere near our houses and the school opposite, let alone breeding in the school opposite.
So yes... I am glad. I am glad I've helped a few swifts set up a new breeding territory. And I still get to see them from our house each Spring.
I have to say.
In the main... I'm more than a bit gutted.
All my painstakingly-built swift spaces have wee cameras in them. All on motion-triggered recording. All are empty.
And less than 100 yards away... "my" beautiful swifts are breeding in a hole in a school wall, where an old outflow pipe once was. (I think... I'll need to ask the school caretaker about that).
Mixed feelings at best.
But still the best birds of all!
And yeah... at least I do get to enjoy the sight and sound of them now, for 3 months of every year.
That has to be a positive!
OK.... a few photos below.
Two of the hole in the school wall (left of the overflow pipe) where "my" beautiful swifts are now nesting (or at least "dry-running).
The rest of the photos below are of a hobby which passed over the garden today and a hobby looking very intently (hobbies' white frowny eyebrows always make them appear to be peering at something, angrily!) at one of "our" swifts in the last photo.
Hobbies are pretty-well the only bird in the UK that can catch swifts (Eleanora's falcons can and do too in the Med), although in the main, they tend to prefer dragonflies - far easier to catch and probably far more juicy!
I hope "your" swifts are doing well.
Ten days to summer now...