|John Willis with an internal nest box.|
Photo © Rosemary Setchfield
Activity increased significantly at the beginning of June with an influx of prospecting young birds and with the generally good weather there were spectacular flying displays with large screaming parties throughout June and July. Peak numbers of 70+ were seen on 23 July with low level screaming parties of up to 20 birds providing a wonderful spectacle. Numbers started to decline around 27 July and by the beginning of August there were no more than 20 birds flying overhead and with virtually no screaming parties. We were aware of 8 nest boxes still being used in early August and one pair were feeding young right up to 1 September.
|Swift leaving an internal nest box|
Photo © Judith Wakelam
The major preference was again for the internal boxes with just one additional breeding pair using the external Schwegler boxes this year. We have previously noted the presence of starlings in some Schwegler boxes but we have not observed any direct interaction between starlings and swifts. During April we walked the site on a number of evenings to assess the use of the external boxes by starlings and we were surprised to find that the starling population appeared to be relatively low. We saw birds using 15 of the 98 external boxes and 2 of the 159 internal boxes and we heard evidence of young in just 5 of the external boxes. We observed starlings using all four of the external boxes in the photograph below, but there was no evidence of young present. Subsequently swifts nested in both of the top boxes for the second season running.