Saturday, 9 June 2012

Lousy weather = lousey Swifts

After the worst of the heavy rain Jack and I went to Pennington Flash to try and flick-net a few Swifts. As we were setting up some birds were passing us knee high which is perfect for catching them.
Jack at the ready, flick net in hand.
We found a sheltered spot near the play area so we had a bit of an audience and the session turned into a ringing demonstration with families coming to see what we were up to.

Swift (Apus apus)
Swifts are awesome birds. They have fascinating lives but sadly their numbers are on the decline in the UK. More information can be found here and here.

Swift (Apus apus)
We caught 23 Swifts over the next couple of hours. The catching rate was very good at first but then slowed as the sky brightened and the birds began to feed more at higher levels. The ringing was also slowed by time spent showing the birds to interested onlookers.

Swifts always carry a few passengers in summer. These blood sucking parasites often scuttle about between the feathers when the birds are being handled. Occasionally they jump ship so I prefer to wear short sleeves, this makes it easier to catch them if they make a run for it up your arm.

Swift Louse-fly (Crataerina pallida)

Swift Louse-fly (Crataerina pallida)
The closer you look at them the creepier they get. They can't live on people but it is no fun finding one in your hair or feeling one crawling around your neck after a Swift ringing session.

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