Home Forums Bird & Insect Sightings Freehold Swift Boxes

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  • Steve Bullen
    Participant
    Post count: 26

    Does anyone know how successful the swift boxes on Grasmere Road have been? I went up last week, and although plenty of swift activity around Freehold in general there was no activity around the boxes.
    Steve

    Alasdair
    Participant
    Post count: 34

    I don’t think any boxes were used by breeders this year, but heard that bangers were responding to the callers and checking out boxes, so fingers crossed for next year.

    eddybayton
    Participant
    Post count: 91

    I’m sat out now in chilly windy conditions in Freehold. Sunset. We have up to 18 screaming birds above. Well below the expected 40-50 of previous years. In addition the nest exploring trails of juveniles in July have been of 5,6,or 7 rather than the more usual 12 or more. There are ample nesting sites in Freehold still and the nest boxes only add to the availability. My personal theory is that both June and July mirrored their difficult weather. My cricket records show exceptionally wet periods at the beginning and end of both months. Not just cold, but debilitating heavy exceptional rain. In contrast, Oxford, in drought, is looking to list a record number of successful nests. I would suggest our continuing high summer windy rainfall events are going to make it a marginal habitat for the common swift. Regular 3mm rain days fine, but regular summer days with 12-25mm. Tricky.

    Steve Bullen
    Participant
    Post count: 26

    Thanks Alasdair and Eddy.

    eddybayton
    Participant
    Post count: 91

    Sat 6th August

    Finally still air and a clear sunset. A reassuring maximum count of 34 swifts tonight directly over SE Freehold. I believe this is the combination of two local colonies, one from the SE and another located around NW Freehold. These don’t involve the Moor Lane or Bulk Road colonies nor the diminished St Leonardsgate colony. Numbers lower but a terrible season for breeding with excessive windy rain events contrasting with short periods of blistering perfect weather.

    The next week with the current forecast is perfect for a daily sunset count, a rare opportunity to census the swift population in an area of town or your village. The departure date coincides with a pretty perfect sunset each evening. If you could step out at 8.45 to 9.15pm and make a count and location we would have some interesting data from the area.

    eddybayton
    Participant
    Post count: 91

    Sunday evening 8.30pm , 42 swifts screaming over Freehold. The forecast remains excellent for similar counts in other urban and village locations around the same time, all worth posting to get an overview of the area population.

    eddybayton
    Participant
    Post count: 91

    Mon 8th Aug 19.50pm

    Wall to wall blue sky and light breeze, sun setting.

    ….not a single swift in the sky above Freehold for the last two hours and none I can see on Windermere or Derwent Rd servicing extant late nests. This is usually an every 20 minute appearance at the nest site.

    My prediction is a whole load will arrive in the next hour to give a reasonable screaming count of the local population. The numbers should be declining from here on in. 40-45 would be good. 30 would imply the departure has started. I might look an idiot in 3 hours time but I’m willing to put my head on the block… Please look out and count in your town or village. It is the best census we have. A mobile phone sky shot makes counting easier if you struggle with swirling birds. When they bunch up in a spiral take a snap. You can count the black dots at your leisure.

    eddybayton
    Participant
    Post count: 91

    30-35 arrived screaming and circling over Freehold at 20.20 and disappeared high up again 10 mins later. The last hour has had stragglers, possibly mature adults who may roost, screaming in 3s and 4s. Tomorrow may very well be the same but you have to be looking out. 20.10 to 20.30 in a clear blue sky as promised. It is a rare opportunity where weather does not play a factor. The later in the season, the higher the birds are over their territory at sunset and in the last days it requires bins to see them.

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