Thursday, 9 June 2011

Swifts - amazing birds

Ivel Ringing Group has been ringing Swifts at The Emplins, Gamlingay, Cambridgeshire, since 1988.

Swifts are one of the most amazing birds in Britain. Adults never land on the ground, as if they did they couldn't take off again (their legs are very short and their wings are long). They typically nest in roof spaces of buildings - apart from the time when nesting, adult Swifts spend their entire life on the wing.

The Emplins is a 15th Century house, near the centre of Gamlingay. There is a large colony of Swifts in the roof of the house. Most of the birds ringed by the Ringing Group are the pulli (chicks). Occasionally adults are also ringed or retrapped. On Wednesday evening I used a mist net and retrapped one Swift. Ringing details to be confirmed and added here later.

On the left is a side-on view of a Swift, while above right you can see the characteristic curved wings - which gives a 'scimitar-like' appearance in flight.

Later in the summer we aim to return to ring the pulli.

The Emplins is a highly rated bed-and-breakfast establishment, so if you want to stay in a fascinating old house, in an area with beautiful countryside and with Swifts nesting in the loft - this is the place to visit. But remember that Swifts aren't around for long; they will be leaving in July or possibly early August.

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