Sunday 23 August 2020

Closing down until next year!

We’ve had no further visits from any swifts and we haven’t seen any near our house recently, so that really is it folks. Such a shame that our swifts didn’t rear any young this year but we shall look forward to their return next year and hopefully they’ll do a bit better. So bye bye until next April-ish and thank you for visiting this blog! 

Saturday 1 August 2020

All gone now?

The single bird in Box 1 that we thought had left did in fact return to roost on a couple of odd nights but not on a regular basis. Now it’s the 1st August and last night there were no roosting swifts in Box 3, so we think that they have finally left. We’ll keep the cameras going for another couple of weeks or so yet though just in case we get some last minute prospectors!

Wednesday 22 July 2020

Just Box 3 remaining

The single bird in Box 1 now seems to have left as it’s no longer roosting at night but we still have our pair in Box 3. Yesterday we saw another pair of swifts doing flypasts, obviously having a look at all the boxes and one landed on the entrance to Box 4 but neither entered and they went away again shortly afterwards. Our pair in Box 3 are still flying about with a third bird so whether or not this is the one from Box 1 still hanging about we don’t know. Here are the pair in Box 3, still looking happy enough!

Wednesday 15 July 2020

New partner for Box 3

Our swifts are still with us at the time of writing. One of the pair in Box 1 has now left, leaving the remaining one to roost alone each night as usual. But there has been a development in Box 3. After many screaming flypasts over several days, (on one particular day involving up to 12 swifts), our single swift in Box 3 now has a partner - hooray! They seem to have settled down together very well for the last week or so and whilst nothing’s going to happen this year we have hopes that they might both return and get down to breeding next year. Here’s a video of the pair in Box 3.

Thursday 2 July 2020

Still roosting in Box 3

Well, after replacing the dead camera with a working one we were surprised to find, that evening, that there is still a roosting bird in Box 3. It’s presumably the partner of the dead one and we think it must have been roosting on top of the dead bird. Very sad. It has been there for the last two nights, but I suspect that without a partner and any young to look after it will be away very shortly.
Here's a picture from last night

The pair in Box 1 continue to mess about, playing with the nest and sticking down feathers but as usual the eggs are rolling around elsewhere and it seems to be sheer luck if either of the birds happen to actually sit on them at all. Oh well, better luck next year!

Tuesday 30 June 2020

A sad day.

The pair are still in Box 1 and incubating…on and off…. We managed to get both eggs back into the nest whilst the pair were out:


...but unfortunately the eggs rolled out again and have been in and out of the nest since then. They are still bringing in feathers and playing at nest building, but at present only one egg is visible in the nest so we suspect the other has gone to the corner of the box again and I really don’t think it’s going to be a success this year.

We had a very brief period during the hot weather last week where up to a dozen swifts were seen to be doing flypasts but none entered the boxes and all seem to have gone away now.

Box 3 has been a total disaster. After not having seen the adults coming and going for a week or so we finally cracked and opened up the box  this morning to see what was going on. You’ll remember that they were incubating 3 eggs and everything looked good until the camera packed up so we thought we’d put a working one back in there. What we found was one dead adult on the nest and nothing else. We don’t know what has happened. Maybe the other parent was taken by a predator, or maybe it simply left leaving the remaining one unable to get sufficient food, we shall never know -maybe there’s a swift version of coronavirus, who knows? So it looks like our swifts will not be rearing any young at all this year, which is a dreadful disappointment. We’ll keep the cameras up and running till the end of the season just in case.

Friday 26 June 2020

More eggs in Box 1

The two eggs in Box 1 disappeared from view shortly after my last post, if you remember they showed no interest in them at all and bits of shell were picked up from the ground outside so we suspect they got rid of them. However, the pair are still using the box and two more eggs have appeared in the last few days.

Again, they are rolling around the box and sometimes one of the birds sits on them for a while and was actually seen successfully retrieving both eggs and starting to incubate.  See video below which shows part of the process - it did manage to get both eggs under itself eventually but unfortunately not in the nest!


We are waiting for an opportunity to get both eggs back into the nest cup while both birds are out feeding. Box 3 camera is still out of action and we haven’t yet had an opportunity to get another one into the box but we estimate that the young will be around 11 days old by now. It’s just a case of getting in there when both parents are out feeding and replacing the camera. The design of the boxes, with a door at the end of each one which faces the opening upstairs window next to it,  means that we can do it quickly from the window without the need to be scrambling up a ladder.

Wednesday 10 June 2020

Camera has stopped working

Oh dear, in the last couple of days, the camera in Box 3 has packed up. Fiddle about with the junction box and the wiring as Steve did, he couldn’t get it to work. So for now I cannot update anything on the incubating pair as we can’t see what’s going on. We had a think and our only hope is that when the eggs hatch we might be able to get a replacement camera from one of the empty boxes into Box 3 while the parents are out getting food for the youngsters - but we’re going to have to be quick when we do. So for now I can only update you with what the pair in Box 1 are doing. Which is precisely nothing…they are not at all bothered about the two eggs which are still rolling around at the side of the box. Better luck next year hopefully!

Sunday 7 June 2020

More eggs

Box 1 have laid a second egg, but as you can see from the photo below they are totally disinterested in both of them (in the bottom left hand corner of this picture) and most of the time they go out during the day and roost in the back corner with the eggs left uncovered.

So, as I thought, nothing’s going to happen with them this year. Hopefully they’ll be serious next year. On the other hand Box 3 have laid a third egg and are incubating normally except for this brief outing when I was able to get the photo. We look forward to seeing the chicks in due course.

Wednesday 3 June 2020

An egg in Box 1

Box 1 pair are still roosting every night, but are showing no signs of building a nest. They actually removed the nest that was in there from the previous year and were just roosting on bare wood. So yesterday Steve collected some feathers and put them in the box whilst they were out during the day, just to give them a hint. This morning there is an egg in the box.

No proper nest though and I don’t think they intend to breed this year so the egg will probably just roll around for a few days or get ejected. Hopefully they’ll return next year and do it properly!  Box 3 are both still incubating.

Tuesday 26 May 2020

A second bird in Box 1

I was woken up very early this morning by swifts constantly screaming from the box outside our bedroom window. They seem to scream every time a starling appears and there are an awful lot of them on our birdfeeders right now. So I turned on the cameras to see what was going on. Yay! A second swift in Box 1!
Lets hope it sticks around and they get down to business.

A third bird turns up

Good news - we now have a third resident who turned up late on the 23rd and went straight into Box 1.

It then roosted for the next 2 nights and is accompanying our pair from Box 3 on their feeding flights and returning to Box 1 in between.  It did occur to me that maybe it’s Box 1’s partner turned very late, only to find that his ‘wife’ has now shacked up with the neighbour in Box 3 and is sitting on two eggs. Oops!  Never mind, we’ve seen a party of five flying about the house - we think three of them are ‘ours’ and the other two just hangers on so hopefully the single in Box 1 will partner up with one of them. We shall see! Meanwhile the pair in Box 3 are now taking turns in incubating so this makes hatching expected around the 15th June

Monday 25 May 2020

Another egg laid

Yesterday’ s view of the nest.

We now have two eggs. We’re hoping that there won’t any more, if, as in previous years, we lose one of the parent birds, we shall be left with one bird trying to rear three young on its own. Had we got any other nesting birds we could have transferred the egg to another nest, but we don’t and won’t have for this year. So here’s hoping there are no more.

Saturday 23 May 2020

First egg laid

Yesterday the swifts laid their first egg but I was unable to photograph it until this morning,when both the parents went out on their feeding flight. Here’s a photo:

Hopefully we shall have more in the next few days.

Monday 18 May 2020

A pair at last

Well, I’m happy to say that the singles in  Box 1 and Box 3 seem to have got together at last and have now taken up permanent residence in Box 3. Nest building is under way and they are bringing in more feathers and spending some time in the box during the daytime.

The nest itself is rather interesting, and I thought you’d like to see this:

Apart from feathers a lot of it seems to be made up of grass or reeds. We’ve not seen this before. No sparrows have entered the box either, as the swifts are there quite a lot of the time. So there must be quite a bit of grass floating about in the air!

So sadly this year we are down to just one pair of swifts, from what were three pairs a couple of years ago. We just hope that with the second and third waves we might get some prospectors for next year.. Here they are in their grassy nest!

Friday 15 May 2020

A pair in Box 3 again.

Last night again no change to the two roosting birds, one in Box 1 and one in Box 3.  But this morning, yet again there were two in Box 3 first thing. They look happy enough,  let’s hope they decide to settle down together! Here’s a video:

Wednesday 13 May 2020

No change so far

Sadly no change here so far, last night we had two the separate individuals roosting in Boxes 1 & 3. They have been seen flying during the daytime with the third swift but so far it hasn’t joined either of them in the boxes. Hopefully the slighter better weather might bring some more in.

Monday 11 May 2020

All gone out for the day

Well, yesterday the pair stayed in Box 3 all day due to the awful weather, but to our surprise one of them left at dusk during that wind and rain and didn’t return overnight. Neither did anyone return to roost in Box 1, but this morning there was one in Box 1 and one in Box 3. So we still don’t know what’s going on, whether these are two individuals or three.  At present, lunchtime, they are all out feeding so we’ll see what happens tonight.

Sunday 10 May 2020

Another one in Box 3

Up till now we’ve just had the two individuals in Boxes 1 and 3, but yesterday afternoon I noticed the usual ‘gang of three’ flying around. But last night just the two lone individuals roosted again. However, this morning there were two in Box 3 and none in Box 1. Either Box 1 had already gone out, or the individual in Box 1 has moved to Box 3.

We shan’t know either way until this evening when they come back to roost. During the week whilst Box 3 was unoccupied during the daytime we collected some feathers and some fluff from some reedmace and put it into Box 3 to help them along a bit. This morning, one of the pair was happily sticking them down and has made a nice nest of them, whilst the other individual was bringing in more feathers. Here’s a short video:

Tuesday 5 May 2020

Another one home

Last night one of the pair from Box 1 returned and roosted overnight. We’re glad to see that it didn’t seem to be bothered that it was a new nestbox and since we’d replaced the nesting material from last year, (which was glued to a removable plywood insert)  the inside would have looked exactly the same as it did before. Here’s hoping  that more swifts turn up this week.

Monday 4 May 2020

First swift home

We're happy to say that last night one of the pair from Box 3 returned and roosted over
nest building is required now!

We look forward to the arrival of it’s partner along with the arrival of the pair in Box 1.

Friday 1 May 2020

Another year

Welcome back folks, Cley Swifts is now 'live' again for 2020 (optimistically)! Over the winter Box 1 was looking a little past it so I decided to make a replacement. This time out of pine, painted with Cuprinol on the outside and then varnished several times with exterior varnish and some roofing felt on the top. Hopefully it'll outlive us now! It's exactly the same size, position and using the same screw holes as the previous Box 1. However it was a bit heavier than the previous one and I really didn't think I should be going up ladders any more, so I 'got a man in' to do it.Which he did, no bother at all and now it's up and ready for our hopefully returning swifts. We spent last week getting the cameras into the boxes and the wires through the windows and it's all plugged in and ready to go.

Box 1 is the first box on the left of this picture, the rest are numbers 2,3,4,5 and 6 in that order. There are also two artificial House Martin nests next to Box 6, just above the window and although there is a colony of House Martins on a house four doors away these have never been used. We live in hope!
There's no sign of  our swifts yet although swifts have been seen locally. Hopefully they will turn up again this year during the next week or so.