Tuesday 29 August 2017

Last one fledged

Finally the last of our swiftlets in box 3 fledged yesterday afternoon, after having spent two days in the box all alone without any visits from the parent bird who had apparently left already. We were expecting it to leave yesterday morning (it must have been very hungry and thirsty by this time!) and we were hoping for some leaving shots, spending some time ready with the camera, but after peering out of the entrance hole for almost half the day it returned to the nest for the afternoon. However, some time during late afternoon, probably some time after 4.30 pm whilst we were out, it finally took the plunge and on checking again in the evening (just to make sure it wasn't lurking under the camera as it sometimes did!) we saw that the box was empty. So sadly it's the end of the season for Cley Swifts. Although only four of our six boxes were occupied at any one time, (one of them with Starlings) we did manage to count a total of 11 of our very own resident swifts altogether, that is the three adult pairs plus the two broods of two and three swiftlets. Here's hoping for a better year next year, but we can't complain really as we have managed to raise 5 new swifts this year. Here are some final images of our last swiftlet:

alone on the nest

Yesterday morning

Cley Swifts will not be updated from now until next Spring, so it's goodbye from me - and goodbye from them! Thank you for visiting and keeping up with our swifts and look out for us again towards the end of April next year.

Saturday 26 August 2017

Just two left now

Last night we had only three roosting, the two swiftlets and one parent bird, the other having left some time during the day. And then this morning, at 8.30am one of the youngsters left leaving only the remaining one in the box today. It has been doing it's wing excercises and peering out of the entrance and the remaining parent is still bringing in food, but we suspect that both will be away in the morning. Happy and sad at the same time! Here's the last of the swiftlets doing some wing excercies this morning:

It looks like it's trying to climb the box walls, and just look at that lovely fanned out tail towards the end of the video! Not long now....

Wednesday 23 August 2017

Not left yet

Our swift family in box 3 are still with us, the youngsters are looking very grown up now. Here's last nights' roost with all four of them trying to fit in the nest together. There seems to be a lot of shuffling going on virtually all night long, sometimes they even walk around the box, amazing considering they are in total darkness!

 Here are this morning's wing excercises:

And two more images, the swiftlets looking out at the world through their entrance:

A face at the door!

Thursday 17 August 2017

More wing exercises

Our two young swifts in box 3 are busy exercising their wings, or at least one of them is, while the other is looking out of the entrance hole. Notice how the rear swiftlet raises and fans it's tail out as well. This is the box with the entrance on the underside so the view is probably more difficult to see from their angle.

They are lucky, there is plenty of room in their nestbox (all our boxes are roughly the size of a shoebox with at least a 7-8" width to give plenty of wing space) but how do other swifts that are nesting in very small spaces or under roof tiles manage to excercise themselves like this?

According to the date they hatched they are due to fledge on around the 27th August...but they look nearly ready to me!

Sunday 13 August 2017

Just four left now

Yesterday the lone adult in box 1 finally left, so now we just have the two adults and their young in box 3. Not long now till they're all away. Oh dear....

Wednesday 9 August 2017

Three have gone

On the 7th August one of the pair in box 1 left, leaving it's partner to roost alone and yesterday the two adult swifts from box 2 finally left, happily before the bad weather set in today. Last night, the remaining swift in box 1 was still roosting alone but it may have left today, we shan't know until we check the cameras this evening - if it leaves today then we shall just have the pair and their young in box 3 still with us.

Monday 7 August 2017

And they're still here....

Yes, all six adult birds roosted last night yet again, that is the non-breeding pair in box 1, the parents of the already fledged swiftlets in box 2 (the last of the three left on the 1st August) and box 3 pair with their two young. Last year the non-breeders had left by the 3rd August. It seems that none of them are keen to leave yet this year! Here are the youngsters in box 3 this morning, I was lucky enough to catch the adult come in and feed one of them.

Will they still all be here tonight?

Thursday 3 August 2017

They're still here!

There was a large flock of about 250 swifts feeding around the north scrape at Cley last night (and still some this morning), one of which was taken by a Hobby. Here's a video of them feeding yesterday evening on the reserve:

Happily it wasn't one of ours that was taken because last night all six adults roosted yet again. Box 2 were there for a second night on their own despite the last of their young having fledged two days ago, and also the non-breeding pair in box 1 who amazingly are still sticking down feathers in their nest - we have high hopes for their return next year as they're obviously quite serious! Here's a video showing all the swifts last night at bed-time:

There are two in box 1, two in box 2 and two adults and two young in box 3. Will they all be back tonight?

Tuesday 1 August 2017

last of the three gone

Here was the situation this morning:

Yes, the last of the three swiftlets in box 2 fledged. As you can see, box 1 non-breeding adults are still in residence as of first thing this morning and the two swiftlets in box 3 continue to thrive. In fact they're doing so well that one of them was actually doing wing excercises and flapping even though they barely have their eyes open. It looks like they're in a hurry to get up and away but that won't be for a while yet.

So will the adults from box 2 return to roost tonight or will they be away today as well? We shall see this evening!

Monday 31 July 2017

Another one gone!

Yesterday the second of our three swiftlets in box 2 fledged, so only the one left today. It's been busy practising pushups on it's wings and fanning out it's tail in readiness for leaving:

The two adults in box 1 roosted again last night, and the adults in box 3 are still feeding the two swiftlets. In this video they have just been fed and the parent bird is picking up rubbish from the floor to take away.

So, just the one to go from box 2, we fully expect that it will be away tomorrow morning!

Saturday 29 July 2017

Still here

No changes today, the adult pair in box 1 were still here this morning. In box 2, the two youngsters are still here as well -  one is permanently by the entrance during the day, surveying the scenes outside and probably planning it's future exit route!

Still no videos of the youngsters in box 3, unfortunately still having trouble uploading to blogger! But they're doing fine, no eyes open yet but shouldn't be long now.

Friday 28 July 2017

One has fledged

One of the three swiftlets in box 2 fledged yesterday morning, so we now have just the two in that box along with the parent birds. The remaining two have been quite active today and doing wing excercises in readiness for fledging. In box 3, the two swiftlets are doing well and becoming more feathered although their eyes aren't open yet. In box 1 we still have the roosting pair of adults, but as there have been no fly pasts of screaming parties recently we suspect they will be leaving very shortly, and nobody has roosted in box 5 since last week. (No videos or pictures today as Blogger is throwing a wobbly, hopefully more next time!).

Tuesday 18 July 2017

Two new chicks today

At last we have managed to watch and film a changeover of the sitting swifts in box 3 today and I'm happy to report that we now have two more chicks. It's been difficult to spot what's been going on in the nest so far, as one of the parents has been constantly on the nest since the eggs were laid. Here is the changeover, in which you might get a glimpse of the chicks:

and here is another one, showing the returned parent bird feeding the two youngsters:

Here is a brief video of the two chicks on their own - the parent is just sitting by the entrance watching flypasts:

Things are much the same otherwise, we still have two adults and three youngsters in box 2 and they are showing an interest in the outside world. I haven't seen any wing excercises yet though. Here they are in the nest with the two parents keeping guard at the entrance against any prospectors:


Box 1 continue to roost each night but tend to disappear from dawn to dusk. One of their abandoned eggs has been spotted at the side of the box.  There have been several flypasts this morning, at one stage there were 8 flying around whilst two adults were still in the boxes and box 5 has again been visited several times although there is still nobody roosting yet. So, not long to go until the swifts start to think about returning to Africa. We should keep the box 3 ones until around the middle of August though when the young fledge, all being well.  Unfortunately the swift season is all too short!

Friday 14 July 2017

How many Swifts can you fit in a nest?

How many? The answer is 5! Here's a video from bedtime in box 2 yesterday evening:

During the day the youngters are starting to get a bit active, here's one surveying the scenes outdoors through the entrance hole:

Meanwhile, box 3 continue to incubate - hatching should be any day now. Still nobody roosting in box 5 yet, although somebody still visits at odd hours of the day, sits for a while then exits again. Box 1 eggs are completely gone but the adults are still roosting every night so there's hope for next year.

Sunday 9 July 2017

Eyes open in box 2

I'm pleased to report today that the three youngsters in box 2 have their eyes open now and are beginning to move about the box, or at least one of them is, since only two can actually fit in the nest now! Here they are, showing a passing interest in the small beetle that is wandering about the floor of the box:

Box 3 are still incubating their two eggs, here is a changeover with the sitter fixing some more feathers on the nest:

Box 1 seem to have mislaid their eggs yet again, one being found on the roof tiles below the box so we don't think much is going to happen there this year. Never mind, it's practise for next year, hopefully they'll get it right then!

We've been away for a couple of days so we don't yet know what the situation is with the pair that were prospecting in box 5, one has been seen in there today but tonight will tell whether they are settled and roosting at night. There have been a lot of fly-pasts today at least, so hopefully I shall have good news next time.

Thursday 6 July 2017

Box 1 lay an egg

At last, the pair in box 1 laid an egg this morning. Later on the box was checked again, only to find the egg was out of the nest:

So whilst the birds were out it was placed back in the nest:

Luckily the boxes are all sited next to an upstairs window so we can reach into the boxes without resorting to a ladder every time. Here's the owner sitting on it again whilst adding feathers to the nest, and hopefully the egg will stay where it should be.

Decoy Swift has not had to come out today, (it's been 'perched' by the entrance to box 6 for the last two afternoons) because the good news is that a new pair seem to be interested in box 5 now. We don't know if it was because of Decoy Swift or not but we hope they will stay to roost this evening. Here are two short videos of the interested parties inspecting the box, firstly the finder, and then it brought a mate along to view as well:

 Here's hoping they will move into this very desirable residence permanently!

Tuesday 4 July 2017


I noticed today that there were some prospectors doing a few fly pasts and also landing briefly. They seemed to be most interested in box 2, which of course is already occupied by the pair and three chicks. The adults were out at the time, but the prospectors didn't enter the box. Rather, they seemed more interested in the upper back of the box, just underneath the gutter. This is rather annoying, since boxes 4, 5 and 6 are empty and just waiting for somebody to move in! It occurred to me that maybe next year I should put false gutters on the fronts of boxes 4, 5 and 6, just above the entrance holes, if that's what they seem to like. Obviously I can't be up a ladder right now doing it, as the swifts are coming and going a lot of the time, so that'll be a job for the winter. However, it then occurred to me that maybe there was something else I could do, (other than a large white arrow saying 'This Way Please') to draw their attention to the vacant boxes....enter 'Decoy Swift':

Made from a piece of cardboard cut out (to a rather large, admittedly),  swift shape, painted black and with wire 'feet' on it's head to hook on to the entrance hole, this will remain for a couple of hours each afternoon and be removed before dusk, just to draw the prospector's attention to the box. I don't know if this will have any effect at all but it's an interesting experiment...watch this space!

Sunday 2 July 2017

Doing well

Our young swifts in box 2 are doing well, growing by the day but they don't appear to have opened their eyes yet. Here's a short video of the parent having fed them this morning:

With the current good weather the parents are out most of the day, just coming back occasionally to feed. We reckon that the three youngsters will be ready to fly the nest on around the 30th July. Box 3 are still incubating, the date the eggs should hatch is around the 16th July with any luck. Box 1 are still coming in to roost each night but have not laid any eggs as yet.

Thursday 29 June 2017

More eggs!

The good news today, after yesterday's dreadful weather and our poor swifts having to stay in their boxes all day, is that box 3 have laid two eggs.

We thought that perhaps they were incubating because for the last few days one of them at least has stayed in the box all day long, but today was the first day we could confirm it. This photo taken today whilst they both went out, presumably because they are hungry after not feeding at all yesterday (this foul weather is really bad for swifts because they are not able to get out and feed on insects in the air). Here's hoping that we shall have another two swiftlets in a few weeks time! The swiftlets in box 2 continue to do well, althought they didn't get much of a feed yesterday. Box 1 swifts have been out all day as usual and have not laid any eggs yet.

Tuesday 27 June 2017

Still growing

Our three young swiftlets in box 2 are still growing well and will probably be overflowing the nest very shortly. Here's a short video taken this morning:

The two other adult pairs, in boxes 1 and 3 are still roosting every evening, but no sign of any eggs from either of them yet. So, counting the 3 swiftlets we now have 9 resident swifts! It would be interesting to know what happened to the two youngsters that fledged last year – did they return to this area or go somewhere else? That's something we'll never know.  Unfortunately there doesn't seem to be any sign of any other swifts showing interest in any of our spare boxes, in fact there's little sign of any other swifts at all, when at this time of year there should be 'bangers' around, (newly prospecting two and three year old swifts that bang against the boxes with their wings to ascertain if they are already occupied).  But we're not into July yet, so there's still a chance.

Saturday 24 June 2017

Our swiftlets have hatched!

Apologies for the short break in transmission, I've been sweltering away in sunny Portland for the last week. Before I left we had a pair of swifts in box 1, a pair with three eggs in box 2, a pair in box 3 and a starling family in box 4. But the good news today is that the swift eggs in box 2 hatched earlier this week and the swiftlets are doing well. We were able to see that there are actually three in there this morning and here is a short video of the parents feeding:

The starlings in box 4 raised four young and they fledged whilst I was away.  Here is one of the young being fed
before they fledged:

The box has now been cleared out and is ready and waiting for some swifts to find it – unfortunately apart from our own ones there doesn't seem to be much activity at all locally, so the rest of the boxes may remain untouched.
The occupants of swift boxes 1 and 3 are still bringing in feathers for their nests but neither has laid any eggs yet....we live in hope!

Tuesday 13 June 2017

After box 3 abandoning the two eggs the other day, they have now both disappeared from the nest. They could be lurking under the camera, or maybe they have been tossed out but we couldn't see any sign of them on the ground or in the gutter below the box. But the good news today is that box 3 seems to have found a new partner, so we hope they will settle down together, although it's probably too late for a new clutch of eggs. But hopefully they'll both return next year to breed.

Box 3 newcomer settling in:

We have also seen that there are actually four baby starlings in box 4, but one is usually hidden from view most of the time. They are doing well and growing fast.

Baby starlings in box 4 and two swifts in box 3:

video of the baby starlings:

Box 2 are still incubating their three eggs, and box 1 are spending most of the day out and just coming in to roost, as is the single starling in box 6.

Friday 9 June 2017

A setback

Yesterday one of the birds in box 3 disappeared and did not come back to roost last night. The other bird has had to go out and leave the eggs un-incubated several times, and has been gone most of today so things are not looking good. Maybe a hobby has had it's partner, but at this early stage there's no way the other one could bring the eggs to hatching and at the same time feed itself.  Box 2 is still incubating and still has a partner right now, and the starling in box 4 is still feeding young -  the most we can see are three. And a starling is roosting again in box 6, maybe it's the other parent of the youngsters. The swifts in box 1 seem to have given up bringing in feathers. It seems that this is a bad year for swifts, several people on the swifts local network are saying that numbers are down to a third of what they were last year, so it's not just us seeing very few in our immediate area. We hope that Box 2 will continue to brood their eggs and raise young.

Below, the seemingly abandoned eggs in box 3, with box 2 still incubating, and the baby starlings huddled invisibly in the bottom of the nest:

Monday 5 June 2017

The Starlings have hatched!

Yesterday afternoon the starling eggs in box 4 hatched, I think we have three or four, but it’s difficult to tell right now. The sooner they're fledged and away the better! This morning we had two prospectors at the swift boxes, they were trying boxes 1, 2, 3 and 4 which are all occupied, but ignoring boxes 5 and 6 which are empty. Don’t know why that should be but we hope they find them soon. Box 1 have started nestbuilding, they seem to have got the hint at last after our homemade plywood and feathers nest! Boxes 2 and 3 are still incubating.
Here is box 1, having just brought in a mouthful of feathers:

We don't seem to be seeing as many swifts over the village this year and wonder if the constant renovations of old houses and roofs is having an effect? It seems that any swifts in the air around our area are actually our own ones, so we hope they will bring some more in from somewhere and increase our little colony.

Wednesday 31 May 2017

Another egg!

Not much has changed over the last couple of days, other than that a pair of starlings started roosting in box 6 and then started building a nest. Before they could get too far we removed the nesting material whilst they were out and put a temporary baffle on the entrance to keep them out until they had moved on elsewhere.

The baffle is now off again and hopefully some more swifts will have a look at it, and also box 5 which has had no interest so far. The other starling is still in box 4, we think it has four eggs. The good news today is that whilst box 2 were out we were able to see that they now have three eggs in their nest.

So that's five eggs that we know about - of course box 3 could also have three eggs but we've been unable to see them as they are constantly being incubated.
Box 1 have made no attempt to build a nest, although they are roosting every night and seem settled, so we gave them a helping hand -  some feathers stuck onto a sheet of thin plywood and slipped it into their box whilst they were out for the day. Hoping this might encourage them to get moving themselves!

Sunday 28 May 2017

Another egg

We still have our three pairs of swifts in boxes 1, 2, and 3. Box 3 already have two eggs, and yesterday box 2 laid another egg, so that's four altogether and both pairs are now incubating. As is the starling in box 4 but we're unable to see the nest as there is so much bedding blocking the camera view! The pair of swifts in box 1 have not started making a nest yet and are mainly using it as a roost.

Friday 26 May 2017

More eggs

Box 1 single swift  found a partner on the 24th and they have  roosted together since, so this is great news, our 'gang of 5' is now a 'gang of 6'.  Box 2 swifts laid an egg this morning, and box 3 swifts also laid a second egg this morning.

Box 2, single egg laid this morning:

Box 3, second egg laid this morning:

A couple of flight shots of 'our' swifts coming in over the garden:

Wednesday 24 May 2017

We have an egg!

Our 'gang' of three has now become a 'gang of five' with the single swift now residing in box 1. So if you see five swifts flying together around our home, they'll be ours!  We're hoping the single swift will find a partner soon. There's been nothing new to report over the last couple of days, other than that the starlings are still occupying box 4 and one was seen to enter box 5 yesterday morning briefly but it didn't stay. The good news today is that box 3 swifts have laid an egg! That was unexpected, we thought box 2 might be the first to start laying, but then again, their nest is so deep and feathery that it would be difficult to see any eggs even if they were there. Hopefully we will have another egg in box 3 by tomorrow morning.

Saturday 20 May 2017

An intruder in box 3

Yesterday was rainy most of the day so the swifts didn't go out very much. Both pairs were present, those in box 2 and box 3, and the starlings in box 4. I went up to check at 6.30pm to find a fight going on in box 3, obviously an intruder was trying to find shelter for the night. I video-d it until 6.40 when the intruder was finally ejected, but I don't know how long it had been in there before 6.30pm. As you can see, one of the resident pair is on the nest and takes no notice at all until they both get to the back of the box and then they all join in until the intruder makes its escape.

Later on that evening a swift entered box 1 (this is the first time anything has ever been in box 1!) and roosted overnight along with the other two pairs and the starlings. We wonder if it was the one that was ejected from box 3 earlier?

Wednesday 17 May 2017

17th May

Last night just the 'gang of three' (as we have always called them) swifts roosted, two in box 3 and one in box 2. Then this morning, two starlings were continuing their nest-building in box 4. Today has been rainy on and off, the swifts have been coming and going throughout the day, but at 3.45 when I checked the cameras I was delighted to see a second swift in box 2. It looked slightly nervous as if it hadn't been in that box before, but soon settled down with the resident swift and there was some mutual preening.... So we live in hope that box 2 has found a partner again!

As you can see below, taken this morning, the starling nest in box 4 is getting rather large, I think we might lose all camera view soon!

Monday 15 May 2017

Up till yesterday, the single bird in box 3 was still alone, but was still making adjustments to the nest:

Then last night it was all change, only one bird roosting in box 2 and two birds in box 3 ... so what's going on here then? Has box 3 found a mate, or has the male of box 2 simply gone into the wrong box? Has he actually got two wives?

Meanwhile, in box 4 a starling has moved in and has put some nesting material in there. It also roosted last night on its own. No doubt the nest will get much larger - last year it virtually filled the box and blocked the camera view!

Sunday 14 May 2017

A punch-up in box 4

We fixed the wonky camera in box 4 after the starling dislodged it yesterday, (not while the starling was in there I hasten to add), but it didn't return again until this morning, when at 7.30 am there was an almighty punch-up between it and another starling inside the box. This went on for just under half an hour and it was extremely vicious, but unfortunately the video I took didn't come out too well. I'm not sure any swifts could compete with this but maybe I'm wrong! Meanwhile, the pair in box 2 roosted overnight, with the single again in box 3. Today there have been several fly pasts, with a single bird entering box 5 with a feather, but up to the time of writing it has not visited again. Maybe it'll come in to roost this evening.

Saturday 13 May 2017

Saturday 13th May

After having three single swifts in boxes 2, 3, and 4 on the 11th May, last night we had a pair roost in box 2, and a single in box 3. Wonder if the one that was in box 4 should really have been in box 2 with the other one - had it got confused? This morning all three were present, but a starling is trying to move into box 4 and has dislodged the camera, so we'll have to fix that later today. We're hoping that the occupant of box 3 will find a partner very soon!

Thursday 11 May 2017

They're back!

We have swifts at last! On the evening of 10th May, two birds returned to boxes 2 and 3. We hadn't touched the nesting materials, just left the boxes as they were at the end of last year so that the swifts could sort out their own bedding. They've been in and out this morning and look settled, we're hoping we'll get some takers for the other 4 boxes shortly. So it looks like we are in business again after a long winter wait!

Friday 28 April 2017

Awaiting the first arrivals.

Friday 28th April 2017. Swifts have been seen flying high above our house, although not inspecting any of our boxes as yet, (but not by us) so we thought we'd take off the gorilla tape and sponges that had been blocking the entrances against sparrows and starlings. The cameras are all back in the 6 boxes, all checked and working so we're ready to go!

The boxes have been left exactly as they were at the end of last year, no cleaning out of anything, we decided to let the swifts do their own thing. So...watch this space, can't wait to see who turns up first!