Mittwoch, 17. Mai 2023

Die Mauersegler sind wieder da! The swifts have arrived back once again!

 I spotted my first pair of swifts as a sign for the arrival of summer somewhat earlier than usual this year. It's usually in early May, but this year it was on Saturday 29.04.23

Swifts are the last of the migratory birds to arrive in early summer and the first to leave again in early autumn. 
They first mate when they are three or four year's old and mate for life and return each year to their previous nesting places and continue flying above our summer skies with a voracious appetite for insects. Following their maiden flight they only make landfall to nest after having reached sexual maturity in their third or fourth year. If they are lucky they live for a further four years after that.They do literally everything on the wing. Eat, sleep and anything else you can think of. If you are fortunate to have them nest in your attic, the space under their nests is always immaculately clean.
Unlike swallows they cannot land on the ground and fly upwards again. They need a drop of at least three metres in order to get airborne and resume flying. Once they start flying, they fly like no other bird.Their maiden flight must really be quite something. They are the fastest straight line speed birds in the skies and over their lifetimes will notch up over a staggering 100,000 miles, flying back and forth between northern Europe and sub-Saharen Africa each year. You will probably hear them screeching around the rooftops, before you actually see them in flight.

Here is a little poem about the amazing swifts;

Diving from your bell tower
On your maiden flight
Wings trembling with uncertainty
Tense with fright

Falling, falling, falling
Newton’s apple in your throat
You know your parents love you
But do they have to gloat?

The wind is rushing faster
The ground appearing near
Can this really be so normal?
My God, I’m feeling queer

Suddenly, your lungs are full and
The joystick truly yanked
The curve is caught, new flight begins
We’re heading skywards, lessons banked

Fear vanquished, the ultimate flying machine
Makes the first few beats upon the wing
Conquers the air and to the sky is born,
The gleeful wingèd, feathered king

Flying like you never mean to stop
Full pilot control
No winged insect ever safe
On the Norway to the Cape patrol

At first great fear, now a mere “stroll” on the wing
Redefining “non-stop”
As your never-ending areal revere
Allows you perpetual “hip-hop”

What glee feel you now
Super, wingèd dove?
Flying for the United Nations
Master o’er all above

Screee, screeee, screeee,
Schreak, skrieck,
Skreigh skriegh
Scree skreigh

The will-o-the-wing
The screech-maker wiles and sings
Dicing, slicing through the rooftops
On vaulted wings

Some say a swift,
Urbane he be,
Can in the valleys
A mountain turn
To scree

I say a swift, rounding each and every
Rooftop with such eternal glee.
In my rafters be

To nest and seek sojourn
To breed and rest a while
To take breath and breed
And like a stile

Spring into the air
and fly forever, not like the idle swallow
“I fly today, now I’m grounded ...
and maybe fly again tomorrow!”

You are a continuous cacophonous symphony
Of eternal wondrous, individual flight,
Ecstasy in motion,
Were I you, I might know fright.

Knowing you, I know none
You come as last, and leave us early,
Perpetual marker of the seasons
Antipodal friend in the hurly burly

Summer’s diplomat with summer’s
Whiles do dance
The mountain’s summits are such, yet much lower
Than your daily death-defying night flying trance

Fly forever celestial creature
With cries like none others heard
But ‘twixt Spring and Summer return in May
Enchanting word-defying, breath-taking bird.

John Harrison

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