Too early for swifts in Edinburgh?

Just caught a glimpse of two forked-tailed birds flying very close together just above the roof-line of the tenements in Marchmont, framed against a clear blue sky a few hours before sunset. It was an exceptionally bright and warm day after a fairly protracted cold spell. There were very many flying insects about generally on the byways and cycle paths on my way home.

I'm nearly sure they were dark all over, with no obvious paler coloration, and light and gliding in flight. I don't have much experience of spotting similar birds, so would welcome any comments. Thank you.

  • It is probably too early for Swifts as far North as Edinburgh but birds are good at fooling us


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • I've been watching these birds over the past few days. It has been brilliant.

    I managed to get a couple of photos of them in flight, They were very high up, flying fast and against a bright sky, and it wasn't easy at all! (Any tips welcome!)

    I'm more sure than ever they are swifts. There were about half a dozen of them from my vantage point (near the Meadows).

  • Glad they got up North eventually


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • A friend of mine just outside Glasgow has reported his first swift sighting, so its very feasible.


    Flickr Peak Rambler

  • Talking to birders when we have been out and about a surprising number of people have not seen any Swifts at all or only seen in smaller numbers than normal. Here in N. Yorkshire our Swifts seem very hit and miss with past nesting sites coming up blank and hirundines in general seem fewer locally.


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can

  • In reply to Seaman:

    Doesn't surprise me Pete

    What I've noticed (and it's just an uninformed amateur observation) is that I've seen them both now and mid-April just when the weather has suddenly improved after a long, bleak spell, bringing out the flying insects in droves, and produced thermals likely to carry the insects and spiders upwards. I think that is likely to be a relatively rare occurrence with high annual fluctuation.

    I'm guessing swifts and other mainly airborne species will only turn out in numbers above our gardens and parks when there is food there for them to catch. So while they are probably about as many swifts as usual, the unusually cool May may have made them harder to spot.

    That of course begs the question of where do they feed when there isn't a food-rich up-current. I'm not sure I know the answer. Much closer to the ground perhaps. Or close to the coast where the air currents are different? If I find out, I'll try to check it out.

    It's amazing how much you can learn about our wildlife cousins by just thinking about them!

  • Clearly June photos are swifts. The early April sightings I'm dubious about. They didn't get here til first week of May due to inclement weather (SW).
  • In reply to Robbo:

    Thanks Robbo, good to know. I only caught a brief glimpse back then, so I'll go with that. This is a great community, by the way!