Mass migration back to UK waylaid by stormy conditions and lack of nesting places
Thu 20 Jun 2019 12.32 BSTLast modified on Sun 23 Jun 2019 17.09 BST
The number of swifts that returned to Britain from their wintering grounds in Africa this spring was the lowest since records began, with poor weather in the Mediterranean delaying their arrival by two weeks. Experts fear the recent wet weather will further hit their numbers. Swift numbers in Britain have fallen by more than 50% since 1995.
More than 100 walks, talks and visits to urban areas to witness the swift’s aerial “screaming parties” will be held this week to raise awareness of the plight of this unique migratory bird.
Nick Brown, a coordinator of Swift Awareness Week, which starts on Saturday, said: “The very cool and wet weather we have had for most of May and June does not suit swifts. They are either incubating their eggs or trying to feed small young and they need warm, dry conditions to find the insects and spiders floating in the air on which they feed.
“Swift Awareness Week aims to raise the profile of this troubled bird and show how easy it is to help by putting up nest boxes for them.”
Swifts can go months or even years entirely airborne, eating insects in flight and sleeping on the wing, only landing when they are mature and ready to nest in the roofs of buildings.
This year poor weather has led to some adult swifts being found grounded and unable to fly, soaking and emaciated from a lack of opportunities to feed on insects. Pictures showed desperate groups of swifts clinging to the vertical walls of buildings to avoid stormy conditions before they reached Britain.