Look to the skies in July for swift summer visitors

Close-up  of  two swift chicks in their nest.
Close-up of two swift chicks in their nest.

Local people and visitors alike are being asked to look to the skies as there are a number of swift events coming up in Tayside and Angus.

Common swifts are only here for three months a year, so will be heading off to Africa at the beginning of August. Their numbers are dwindling and information is urgently needed to find out where they are nesting so they can be safeguarded.

Catherine A G Lloyd, Tayside Biodiversity Co-ordinator, said: “Our very special Scottish-born swifts are only here for 12 weeks of the year, so there is not much time to find out where they are nesting and how we can help them.”

On Friday, July 1, Tayside Swifts is running a ‘Drop-in’ Swift Surgery session, offering free advice, at Kirriemuir Library from 1pm - 5pm.

Catherine continued: “Free advice will be available, as to where best to install swift nestboxes and how to include integral swift nestboxes into new-builds. As part of the Kirriemuir Swift Conservation Project, free nestboxes are available, so call in to arrange the installation of a nestbox or two – the project will be hiring a cherry picker to put the nestboxes up.

“Public buildings, care homes, shops and private homes have already been given woodcrete nestboxes (which have a very long life and need no maintenance) so don’t lose the opportunity to be part of this important project.”

On that same Friday, July 1, there will be a free town walk looking for swifts, starting at 8.30pm (meet at the Peter Pan statue, 32 High Street, Kirriemuir). The walk will be about half a mile long (on pavements).

Catherine added: “No booking needed; just turn up – everyone is very welcome. Bring binoculars if you have them and wear sturdy footwear and warm clothes/waterproofs. We will be learning about the charismatic swift, born in Scotland but spending much of its life on the wing to Africa and back. Once they leave the nest they don’t land for 3 or 4 years – how amazing is that!”

On Saturday, July 2, at 7.30pm in Muthill Church Hall, Daniele Muir from Perthshire Wildlife will give an illustrated talk about swifts and how the Strathearn Swift Conservation Project is trying to save this iconic bird in the area. The talk will be followed by a guided walk around the village of Muthill, trying to spot birds.

As Catherine says, “Everyone can join in – you just need to look to the skies at either midday or around 9pm each night in July.”