‘What’s your favourite bird’? I sometimes get asked. It’s a difficult one to answer – it feels wrong, somehow, to pick out a favourite among the many that deserve our care and appreciation.
How about you – would you go for colour (goldfinch, kingfisher), character (robin, blue tit), humility (dunnock), speed and grace (peregrine, red kite) or perhaps song (blackbird. nightingale)…. or something else?
The closest I come to a favourite would be swifts. When they arrive back, as they have done over the last few weeks, they soar around like packs of small, black jet fighters, and the first high-pitched ‘swoops’ you hear give notice of summer warmth. They remind me of times spent sitting outside some warm holiday spot, perhaps a pavement café, having a cool drink as they scream above the southern-European rooftops.
The amazing thing is that they only land to breed, and once the chicks leave their nests they don’t need to make landfall until it’s time for them to become parents. They feed on insects, sometimes very high up, drink rain drops, and even sleep on the wing. They migrate from the UK before the cooler weather of autumn sets in, crossing the dry Sahara to feed above the lush woods and grasslands of Africa.
More information on the incredible, aerial life of swifts take a look here: https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/swift/
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