Today there were a few more swifts about, we had a party of 5 do several flypasts, and later in the afternoon a party of 3. One of the youngsters left the nest for a short while and sat by the entrance looking out, but the other one still hasn't ventured out:
Later on we saw the parent bird come in to feed. There are actually two youngsters in the nest in this video although you wouldn't think it at first!
The way the parent bird looks at the camera you 'd think it knew we were watching itt....
Oh dear, it's getting near that time ... the pair in box 3 didn't roost last night, so it all felt a bit lonely, with just the parent bird and the two swiftlets in box 2. Today we haven't seen much of the parent bird, but then it does seem to suddenly appear from nowhere, swoop in to feed and then out again. The swiftlets are still remaining in their nest most of the day. Haven't seen them doing much excercise either, they'll have to start soon if they're to get their strength up for fledging! We saw two swifts flying about briefly today, but no more than that.
Last night the pair in box 3 roosted again, along with the parent and two swiftlets in box 2. Not much to report today, it's been very quiet and we have only seen the parent bird come into the nestbox twice to feed the swiftlets. They are still remaining in their nest most of the time, although one did move to the entrance to peer out briefly before going back to the nest for the rest of the day. We haven't seen the pair from box 3 since this morning, so wonder if they have finally decided to leave, likewise no other local swifts have been seen.
We've been away for a night, so I don't know who roosted last night. Today we have only seen the two swiftlets, still snuggled up next to each other in the nest this afternoon. They don't seem very keen on venturing out of it yet, and now it's pouring with rain outside and the parent bird is off out somewhere. Can't wait to see who turns up tonight!
Nothing new to report today, it's been a quiet day again, although there were a couple of brief fly-pasts by a gang of about 10 swifts mid morning. The pair in box 3 roosted again last night, along with the single parent and the two swiftlets in box 2.
The swiftlets are still remaining in their nest all day, they haven't felt the urge to have a look outside at all. The pair from box 3 came back mid morning and had a brief rest in their box, and were looking a bit more interested in each other as this video will show.
There's still another 10 days or so to go at least until the swiftlets are due to fledge.
Last night the pair in box 3 roosted yet again, along with the single parent and two swiftlets in box 2. Another quiet day today, although there were a couple of prospectors having a look around, as can be seen here, where three boxes are occupied at the same time. At last somebody in box 6 briefly, but the visitor to box 3 could have been one of the regular roosting pair, impossible to know.
The swiftlets have been staying in the nest almost all of the time up to now, but one ventured out today as far as the 'front door' and had a brief first look at the outside world before scurrying back again. The single parent bird is still roosting with them, all three in the nest together, quite a crowd now!
Last night our pair in box 3 returned to roost yet again. As usual they just sat next to each other without much interaction:
Here are the pair in box 3
I don't know why the picture is all pink, all of our boxes seem to be in different shades!
Our parent bird was also back in box 2 with the two swiftlets. We hope that the mothering instinct is stronger than the migration instinct right now, the swiftlets are 3 weeks old today so have a couple of weeks to go yet.
We had a bit of action today - on returning from our morning walk we heard screaming coming from box 2 so we dashed upstairs and turned on the cameras. It was apparent that our parent bird had returned to feed the youngsters and had found an intruder already in the box. From their reactions it was obvious that the intruder was not the missing parent bird. Our bird was carrying a bolus ready to feed the youngsters but initially was unable to get past the intruder. You can see the feeding of one of the young, along with the subsequent ejection of the intruder in this video:
One of our neighbours was also out walking locally this morning and says he spotted a Hobby giving chase to 'our' swifts shortly before we returned but it managed to escape ... I wonder if this morning's intruder was the same bird simply taking refuge in our box, or maybe it was one of the birds from box 3?
Nothing new to report today. Our box 3 pair returned to roost last night, as did the single parent of the two swiftlets in box 2. One thing we've noticed is that the pair in box 3 are not so 'cuddly' as the box 2 pair were, they tend to sleep alongside each other but there's no preening going on or snuggling up, and they're both very still all the time. Maybe they realise there's no point at the moment!
Our swiftlets in box 2 are doing well and are starting to look like proper 'teenagers' now.
Last night the pair in box 3 roosted again, along with the single parent and two swiftlets in box 2. Today has been a quiet day. One of the pair in box 3 was seen sticking more feathers and bits of hay down in the nest early this morning. The rest of the day they have both been absent. We haven't seen much of parent bird from box 2 either today, presumably they've all been off hunting for food elsewhere, and there have been no screaming parties flying around the house. The swiftlets have not left the nest either although they both look happy and well. The strange beetle infestation seems to have ended as suddenly as it began too. Hopefully all the adult birds will be back to roost this evening.
Last night our pair in box 3 roosted again, along with the parent and the two swiftlets in box 2. We wonder how much longer the pair in box 3 will stay, since they are not on eggs, we expect them to leave at any time now and just hope that they intend to return next year.
This morning one of the swiftlets in box 2 decided to try out it's wings
Looking at box 2 this afternoon we noticed an infestation that wasn't there this morning. We don't know what it is, it looks like black beetles. We don't think they are flat flies because they are not moving very fast and seem to be the wrong shape.
They are possibly some sort of dung beetle as they seem to be coming out of the faecaes lying on the floor of the box. If anyone has any idea what these are we'd love to know!
Last night the roosters were the pair in box 3 again, and the now single parent with the two young in box 2. Another very warm day today. One of the swiftlets in box 2 finally cracked and made it out of the nest to explore the rest of the box - and, presumably, to cool down a bit!
Yesterday's 'raiding party' also did several fly pasts but did not try to enter box 2 this time.
Last night the pair in box 3 roosted, along with one adult and the two swiftlets in box 2. It's been so hot today, I stopped looking at the thermometer when it reached 30 degrees. Luckily all of the swift boxes are on our north facing wall and in shade all day long so hopefully the swiftlets didn't get too stressed out by it. They weren't gaping with the heat although one of them was hanging out of the nest with it's head on the floor of the box, but it's OK, I think it was just trying to cool off. The adult bird came in several times to feed today, and also did a bit of housework, it was seen to pick up bits from the floor of the box and also swallowed some faeces to take away
The young swiftlets trying to keep cool, the right hand bird is resting it's head on the floor of the box!
There was a bit of a 'raiding' party today, four swifts did several screaming flypasts, and one of them entered box 2 a couple of times but was put off by the youngsters who were alone at the time. It's partner tried to find a back way into the box and also nearly entered the open bedroom window! Another swift entered box 1 briefly this morning.
The raiding party
As always, we look forward to seeing who turns up to roost tonight.
Last night the pair in box 3 roosted again. They have built quite a decent nest cup now:
Only one of the pair in box 2 was present again last night, it looks like he/she has either been taken by a Hobby (they have been seen here recently), or maybe he/she has just decided to 'go home' and leave the other one to it. Either way, the single one left behind seems to be managing OK so far. The swiftlets are two weeks old now and are getting proper little muppet faces on them and almost climbing out of the nest. Here's a short video taken this afternoon while one of the parent birds visited.
So, wonder if the missing parent will turn up tonight?
Last night was a bit different, of the pair in box 2, only one of them roosted along with the swiftlets. And only one has visited during the day today, I don't know which one, or whether they are actually the two of them but taking turns. The nest was getting a little crowded, although there's still plenty of room in the box for two adults as well. Maybe one of them just wanted a bit of a break, a bit of peace and quiet from the kids!
The second pair also roosted again in box 3 and have been coming and going today, they are nest building in earnest, having brought in a number of feathers. I hope they are not thinking of laying at this late stage, it would be sure to fail I would think. Perhaps theyr'e just 'playing house' in readiness for next year, let's hope so anyway. Here is a short video of them sticking down their newly brought in feathers:
Today's just a repeat of yesterday really. Not that I'm complaining, this is more than we'd hoped for already! The pair in box 3 roosted again, as did the family in box 2. They've all been out most of the day today, although there was a bit of coming and going with box 3 pair this morning, I think they've been topping up their nest with extra feathers. I don't think we shall get any more newcomers to the other boxes now as it's getting a bit late in the season and some of the swifts are already heading south. Hopefully box 3 pair will be back to roost tonight.
Last night box 3 pair roosted together for the first time, along with the family in box 2. Here is a short video of the pair in box 3 allopreening.
Our young swifts in box 2 are growing fast and when the weather's warm are left for most of the day on their own.
We wonder who will turn up tonight to roost? It's even more exciting than the Brexit shenanigans! Here is a picture showing the swifts' view of the surroundings. Their nestboxes overlook the Cley Marshes Nature reserve.
I haven't mentioned the House Martins' nests so far.That's because there aren't any takers yet. Our nearest ones nest under the eaves of a house five doors away, and have done for donkey's years and as far as I know, nowhere else in the village. We hope they might show some interest in our nests...eventually - surely they must be running out of space? As with the swifts, I guess we will just have to be ultra patient!
Last night at 21.45 boxes 1, 3 and 6 all had single swifts in them, along with the pair and young in box 2. Gosh, almost a full house. But then box 6 swift left shortly afterwards, and only boxes 1, 2 and 3 roosted.
This morning, boxes 3 and 5 had brief visits between 7.15 and 7.30. Then at 9.34 box 3 swift had returned and brought a friend along too! They spent some time cuddling up together and mutually preening, and left again some time before midday.
Here is a short video of the swiftlets in box 2 this morning. They are now starting to be more active and have opened their eyes.
At 22.45 last night box 2 just had the two swiftlets in it. There were also single swifts in box 3 and box 5, see below.
At 22.50 the two adult birds returned to box 2 and the single swift in box 5 left, leaving just boxes 2 and 3 roosting. By 7.10 this morning, boxes 3, 4 and 5 all had single swifts in them briefly, along with the family in box 2. We think that the pair that were roosting in box 1 for over a week have probably now left to join the exodus leaving from Spurn, so hopefully we shall see them back here again next year.
The pair still brooding their young in box 2. Also last night a single swift roosted in box 3, and this morning a single swift entered and left box 5 several times from 8.45am.
Above: the breeding pair in box 2 and the newcomer in box 3
Notice from the pictures that we have not placed swift nesting cups in the boxes, we figured the swifts could manage to make their own nests. As was proved by the breeding pair in box 2 who have built a rather splendid 'vesuvius' of a nest, so much so that they are starting to disappear off the top of the screen! Swifts are very loving creatures, they like to cuddle together ... all night long and frequently shuffling about, as can be seen below, our pair in box 2.
Even when there aren't any young in the nest they still cuddle up together all night, sometimes with one having it's entire wing around the other one.
Above: here is the newcomer in box 3 busily re-arranging the ex-sparrow bedding.
Our early morning and overnight visitors usually turn up again at dusk the following evening, or rather we hope they will. We usually catch a glimpse of one of our breeding pair as they pass the living room window on their way up, followed by a light thud as they land in the box. Box 1 pair did not return last night, so we wonder if they will tonight - they like to keep us in suspense, but it's great to know that we might have the start of a new colony at last.
This blog chronicles our lengthy attempts to attract swifts (and other birds) to nest at our home. Initially, 10 years ago, we had two Schwegler swift nestboxes installed on the front of our house, along with two Schwegler House Martin nests, and two House Sparrow wooden terraces on the side walls. We then sat back and waited. And waited. With absolutely no interest shown, and despite our having played the recommended swift call CD at full blast all day long for days on end. After several years one of the Schwegler boxes came tumbling down, luckily not hitting anyone; the chipboard fixings had rotted away. Moral of this story, Schwegler boxes are extremely heavy and may be a danger to anyone not wearing a hard hat! Since it had attracted no interest whatsoever, it stayed down, relegated to the garden shed for the time being. Then, one year, we lost the CD so didn’t play it… and that was when some interest was finally shown in the remaining swift nestbox. I wonder if the CD had actually been putting them off all these years. Maybe they thought the nest was already occupied? Swifts always seemed to be flying around our house, but none had entered our box.
Pan ahead a few years…the remaining box started to look as if it was about to come down at any minute, so we got the ladder out and took it down and spent the winter months replacing the back and the top of it, and fixing it firmly together with rawlplugs drilled into it. At the same time, in anticipation, we bought a nestbox camera and fixed that in too, behind a little plywood screen to hide the cables from any possible residents. In early spring, we fixed it firmly back to replace the other Schwegler box which was now in need of repair, screwed it to the wall and made it completely safe, with the camera cable coming through the bedroom window to our TV.
Swift box number 2
AND FINALLY, A BREAKTHROUGH! On 25th June 2014, a pair of swifts entered our box and remained in it for half an hour at one point. And we could see it all on our camera! But it would be a while before we would see them again.
I will now go into ‘diary mode’
26th June 2014 The pair enter the box again 9th July 2014 The pair still going in and out of the box
We now needed to get some more nestboxes, so we looked on the internet at different plans and then dashed off to the local timber yard and bought an 8 foot by 4 foot sheet of plywood. Together with other bits of timber lurking in our outhouse (thank you to the dear local builders who allow us to raid their skips!) we managed to build a further five boxes, in a familiar shoebox design and covered with some left-over roofing felt. Four of them had normal front entrances and the fifth, as an experiment to see which they preferred, had a bottom entrance. We now named them boxes 1 to 6, left to right of the house as you look at it. Boxes 1, 4, 5 and 6 are similar plywood boxes with front openings, box 2 is the revamped Schwegler box and box 3 is the bottom entrance plywood box. All have been fitted with cameras, and as they’ll stay up year round have been designed with an end-opening door so that we can get to take the cameras out from our upper windows. The cameras are mounted on 2” squares of plywood that are velcro-ed to the box roof just inside the doors. The only camera we cannot get to without taking the box down is box 2, the Schwegler.
Ours cameras are wired £32.99 https://www.spycameracctv.com/spy/wildlife-cameras/bird-box-cameras/ Slightly more expensive ‘Wireless’ ones are only wireless for the signal, as you have to have a wire for the power to each camera anyway. We’ve got all six cameras wired to a junction box so we can see into all six boxes at once.
From left to right: Swift boxes 1-5, House Martin nests over the window, Swift box 6.
Swift box 3 with it's bottom entrance and landing ramp.
To date, five of the boxes have had interest shown, but not box 3, the bottom entrance. I wondered whether it was all a bit too difficult for the swifts to manage so I have superglued a DIY landing ramp beneath it, which will be screwed on properly in readiness for next year.
The swifts now start prospecting in earnest…hopefully!
28th July 2014 2-5 swifts still swooping round the house prospecting
29th July 2014 The pair again in the concrete nestbox (box 2) 31st July 2014 One bang on time, the last swift of the year around the house at 10am.
No more swifts now until 2015.
6th May 2015 one briefly flight checking out the nest boxes at 18.00.
8th May 2015 one again briefly flight checking out the nestboxes at dusk
9th May 2015 Starlings have moved into box 4!
10th May 2015 2 very briefly flight checked out the nestboxes in evening.
15th May 2015 photographed a pair briefly circling the house at 19.30 then one of them resting and preening in box 2, 19.30-20.00. Have been playing the tape loop constantly for the last two days. It had then returned to the box by 20.30 and then roosted there.
16th May 2015 3 circling the house closely briefly in the morning then one again in box 2 in the evening.
17th May 2015 photograph two together in the nestbox 09.00 for half an hour or so allopreening and again two at about 19.00 then one roosted overnight.
18th May 2015 one in nestbox 2 till 10.30 (rain all morning) and again one in the evening to roost (and seen to leave at 08.45)
19th May 2015 one back in box 2 from 20.00.
20th May 2015 one in box 2 18.00-20.00.
23rd May 2015 pair in box 2together at 19.00 and then again one roosted overnight in the box.
24th May 2015 roosting bird gone from box 2 by 07.00 but then two in box 2 allopreening at least 07.30-08.20 when they flew off together. Then one again roosted from about 19.00.
26th May 2015 two roosted together in box overnight for the first time.
27th May 2015 one roosted in box 2 overnight having made the very beginnings of bringing in some nest material during the day.
28th May 2015 a little more material brought in to the box this morning, so the beginnings of a nest. Two roosted in box 2 overnight (and in the morning stayed intermittently until at least 09.20).
29th May 2015 both again roosted in box 2 overnight
. 31st May 2015 pair in box 2 again
1st June 2015 two again in box 2 from 19.00.
2nd June 2015 two again roosted in box 2 overnight.
3rd June 2015 just one roosted in the box tonight. The very beginnings of a nest have not been added to at all since the first day it was begun about a week ago.
4th June 2015 only one roosted overnight in box 2 again but two visited the box during the morning and a record six flight checked out the boxes at midday.
5th June 2015 two again roosted overnight in box 2.
6th June 2015 two again roost in box 2 overnight
15th June 2015 I've been away for two nights but by 14.00 there is an egg in box 2 Then this evening 5 briefly buzzed the front of the house and the pair again roosted (but neither on the egg).
18th June 2015 pair still with one egg in box
19th June 2015 As every recent night, two again roosted overnight in box 2and one present for much of the day, but no sign of any eggs. Have they thrown it/them out or eaten then or hidden and ignoring it/them in the corner?
21st June 2015 The pair both again roosting in box 2 overnight as usual and an egg has reappeared again - out of the nest and being ignored again after being brooded for a little while late this afternoon.
26th June 2015 The pair still plus an egg again briefly in box 2 early afternoon. What is going on with the eggs?!
30th June 2015 Pair both still roosting in box 2 every night but no sign of any eggs for days and nothing in any of the other five boxes except the fledged starling nest remaining in box 4. l’ll clear that out in a day or two.
16th July 2015 The pair still roosting in box 2 every night
One of 'our' swifts circling the house
2nd August 2015 The pair have roosted in box 2 every night up until last night regardless of the weather, adding to their white feather nest every day. They briefly flew close around the front of the house late morning but they have not returned to roost tonight.
3rd August 2015 Surprisingly after one empty night one swift roosted again in the nestbox last night for the last time.
13th August 2015 A single swift seemed to go into the hole in our neighbour’s eaves.
END OF 2015. So far, only one box, box 2 has any regular swifts go into it. We now have to tape up all the entrances until spring. (The Schwegler box just has a piece of old sponge rammed into the entrance, attached to a piece of string, which we can pull out in Spring).
We are very much looking forward to seeing if any of our swifts return to the boxes. Sometime during early spring a House Sparrow has been sussing out box 3, rather surprisingly, the bottom entrance box before it had the landing ramp superglued on. It has been gently evicted after starting to bring in nesting material. There’s plenty more room under the eaves with all the other sparrows!
2nd May 2016 Swifts have been seen locally, so we take off the sticky tapes and the sponge out of box 2. 3rd May 2016 A pair of starlings promptly move into box 4 and start nestbuilding…again!
4th May 2016 No sign of any swifts anywhere all day then one found roosting in box 2 at 22.30 !
6th May 2016 The pair in the box together at 19.00
7th May 2016 A bee investigates box 3, which is still full of the ex-sparrow nesting material but doesn’t stay
8th May 2016 The pair in box 2 start nestbuilding
17th May 2016 Both birds still night roosting in box 2 and one still apparently incubating 24hrs.
25th May 2016 A new pair arrive in box 1, whoopee!
26th May 2016 The incubating pair still in box 2 and last nights pair again in box 1 for the night
1st June 2016 The pair still roosting nightly together in box 2
15th June 2016 The pair still roosting nightly in box 2 and one on the nest virtually all day on 14th and today, seemingly now incubating two glimpsed probable eggs....
17th June 2016 both birds stll night roosting in the box and one still apparently incubating 24hrs. Five juvenile Starlings in box 4 have now fledged.
26th June 2016 The incubating pair still in box 2 and last nights pair again in box 1 for the night
30th June 2016 The pair still incubating in box 2 and the new pair still roosting every night in box 1
3rd July 2016 Photograph: Our two pairs – Box 2 pair have hatched their first chick this morning, briefly glimpsed under one of the adults, and appeared to be briefly fed.
6th July 2016 The pair still with their unseen-today chick in box 2, a single roosted in box 1 again last night, and a pair together in the now empty of Starlings box 4 for a few minutes around 11.30. Then in the evening the breeding pair again in box 2 and a pair night-roosted in box 1 again.
8th July 2016 In box 1 a pair still 2 roosting nightly and in box 2 still the pair with the unseen chick
10th July 2016 The pair in box 2 both left for 10 mins or so, leaving the now visible two chicks on their own. One of the pair in box 1 brings a feather into box 1, but neither roost this evening.
11th July 2016 A newcomer has finally entered box 3 (the one with the bottom entrance) sometime during the early morning. I hope the superglued landing ramp lasts the season! It seems to like the ex-sparrow nesting material and has been re-arranging it. All of the boxes have now been occupied for a short while at some stage. The pair in box 1 have been out for a long time today, leaving the chicks on their own, but we're not worried, it's raining and it's very warm out too. The chicks are growing well but don’t have their eyes open yet.