For me (this may change of course - I HAVE seen one pass over this house south in the first week of September before) the final fourteen swifts of 2023 all danced high above our house, in cloudy, gloomy skies at dusk on 3rd August 2023. Around our house, that is.
I did see two or three swifts on the Isle of Wight, but none after the 6th August I think.
Of course, last year I saw my last 2023 Berkshire swift on the 16th August (the day I write this a year later), so you never know - there may be a few Northern birds pass over our Southern garden in the next few days - they certainly did seem later leaving here than normal (I rarely see so many swifts in Berkshire in August as I did this year, even if it was just the first week of August). Then again, they were nearly ten days later arriving, in the unsettled start to May, remember?
Well... we've had a pretty good year for swifts this year at "New Swift Half". Plenty of prospecting from young birds and plenty of interest in the house (especially from the 3rd wave of visiting young birds) in a mixed season, weather-wise (sunny and hot 2nd half of May and June - and a WASHOUT July).
Will we see "our" birds return next May? God, I hope so.
Will they breed across the road again - as they certainly did this year, successfully too by the look of the return flights to the nest spot in the first couple of days of August this year. Surely they will, after I managed to successfully delay the roofing project from destroying this red-listed species nest site.
Will they dry run with us? Or even breed in our house?
I remain hopeful. Always will be.
For now though....
I wish all the swifts nothing but good luck during their migration south and their winter sojourn in their proper home continent, Africa.... and as is traditional now, I play them my swift song (below) which I play each time they leave and each time they return (the lucky ones that is).
Please do also listen to it too - and think of these wonderful wee chocolate brown birds, arrowing back to the Congo like tiny bows and arrows right now, in their hundreds and thousands.
Be safe you beautiful swifts - and roll on May 2024.