The swifts are back!

I spotted my first of the season flying over Teddington on 28th April, the earliest date I have recorded their arrival for usually they fly in during the first week in May.

It always amazes me to realize that when the young swifts leave their nests they will remain constantly airborne for two or three years before finally settling down to nest.

How many million miles do they fly during those years I wonder, feeding, sleeping and mating on the wing?

The oldest swift ringed as a fledgling was found dead having lived for eighteen years!

If a swift accidentally lands on the ground its long scimitar shaped wings and virtually useless stubby legs prevent it taking off again.

The photograph shows a swift that was found stranded on a road surface, was carefully picked up and taken to an extensive grassy area on Wimbledon common.

There it was launched into the air and after briefly faltering, recovered and zoomed up into the blue to join a flock of swifts high above.

A magical moment indeed!

Swifts spend the winter in Africa and even as far away as Mozambique.

Sadly their numbers have declined steeply in recent years partly due to a lack of nesting sites as buildings seal up roof spaces but happily, some enterprising developers are installing specially designed swift nest bricks in new high rise buildings.