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Early Swift return....

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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 07:28   #1
KenM
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Early Swift return....

According to London Wiki Birds, an East Dulwich man had his earliest ever return to his Swift box yesterday by three weeks!! I know nowt about Swift breeding behaviour other than last year I had my earliest ever sightings of circa a dozen birds (my earliest) on the 21st April seen distantly from the house heading North. The East Dulwich man also has a 2nd Swift box whose occupants normally arrive between 16-17th May....their date return should be interesting?

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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 07:59   #2
Andrew Whitehouse
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A Swift was seen in Aberdeen yesterday (not by me). That's also about three weeks early.
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 09:18   #3
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I wouldn't expect to see one here, this far inland, for another ten days or so and not had one yet.
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 09:36   #4
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Got my first a couple of days ago over the garden. Two days later than my earliest ever here (in 2007), and I reckon about a week or so earlier than the norm, which is just before the end of the month.
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 09:56   #5
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Does make you wonder about arriving three weeks ahead of norm, when you consider that their UK duration visit is not much more than circa twelve weeks, it seems like a “quantum upheaval” to their annual life cycle?

PS am assuming that they are also arriving earlier in Southern Europe at their breeding sites too?

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Last edited by KenM : Thursday 23rd April 2020 at 09:58. Reason: Additional comment
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 10:05   #6
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Does make you wonder about arriving three weeks ahead of norm, when you consider that their UK duration visit is not much more than circa twelve weeks, it seems like a “quantum upheaval” to their annual life cycle?

PS am assuming that they are also arriving earlier in Southern Europe at their breeding sites too?

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Yes, mine will be just about, completely gone by the second week in Aug.
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 10:36   #7
Euan Buchan
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Not seen or heard them in Edinburgh yet.
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 11:13   #8
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Quote:
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According to London Wiki Birds, an East Dulwich man had his earliest ever return to his Swift box yesterday by three weeks!! I know nowt about Swift breeding behaviour other than last year I had my earliest ever sightings of circa a dozen birds (my earliest) on the 21st April seen distantly from the house heading North. The East Dulwich man also has a 2nd Swift box whose occupants normally arrive between 16-17th May....their date return should be interesting?

Cheers
Down here in Hampshire, they have been appearing for about a week now, although I haven't seen one. The earliest record ever was the 2nd April, and the normal timing is mid April.

Of course they spend (nearly) all there time on the wing and apparently fly at a very consistent speed of c. 25mph. This means that they must be doing around 600 miles a day.

I understand that they are opportunists at this time of year and think nothing of following their food source over hundreds of miles. The anti-cyclones over the UK must be attracting them in. Presumably if the weather turned they would then move off until suitable conditions returned.

I am aware that in previous years we have a number of periods in late April/early may when birds have yo-yo'ed between here and the continent until the weathered settled or the urge to breed fixed them locally.
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 11:41   #9
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I wouldn't expect to see one here, this far inland, for another ten days or so and not had one yet.
I had my first here yesterday Andy, and there have been a few others already elsewhere in Leics/Rutland.

A Rutland birder who has 20 Swift boxes had the first bird return on Tuesday, one day earlier than his previous earliest. Another was back yesterday, both going in to boxes to roost.

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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 11:43   #10
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I had my first for the year on the 17th, and a couple more yesterday.
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 12:16   #11
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I had my first here yesterday Andy, and there have been a few others already elsewhere in Leics/Rutland.

A Rutland birder who has 20 Swift boxes had the first bird return on Tuesday, one day earlier than his previous earliest. Another was back yesterday, both going in to boxes to roost.

Steve
Eyes and ears to the skies then, thanks Steve, not sure I've seen one in Notts before May?

The first ones I generally see are very high and picked up having initialy heard them.
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 13:53   #12
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Quite a few already back here - the earliest I have seen entering nest was 19th April... (about 3 years ago)
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Old Thursday 23rd April 2020, 16:54   #13
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Old Friday 24th April 2020, 05:44   #14
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I haven't seen one yet but quite a few London reports over the last week or so of generally low numbers, though there was a notable count of c100 a couple of days back at Walthamstow.
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Old Friday 24th April 2020, 13:52   #15
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I haven't seen one yet but quite a few London reports over the last week or so of generally low numbers, though there was a notable count of c100 a couple of days back at Walthamstow.
Our first one over the garden was Tuesday 21 April, so the same as KenM.

edit - forgot to say that this is for west London
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Old Monday 27th April 2020, 16:15   #16
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Still haven't seen one here yet.
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Old Monday 27th April 2020, 17:13   #17
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Still haven't seen one here yet.
Nor here, mind you it’s usually late May before I see them ( 23rd last year, two days before I saw the first House Martin which was odd..)!
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2020, 05:24   #18
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Saw 5 over the front garden with 3 Red Kites at the same time. In the afternoon saw 5 again but no idea if they were the same birds earlier. Similarly frequently had sightings of 1 or 2 Red Kites through the day when I looked out, so suspect 3 was a minimum, especially as I had my largest flock of 10 less than 2 miles away last Friday.

Pretty productive day for raptors from the front garden with Hobby passing over, a low male Sparrowhawk + when it got humid in the afternoon a circling pair of Peregrines.
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2020, 06:32   #19
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Saw 5 over the front garden with 3 Red Kites at the same time. In the afternoon saw 5 again but no idea if they were the same birds earlier. Similarly frequently had sightings of 1 or 2 Red Kites through the day when I looked out, so suspect 3 was a minimum, especially as I had my largest flock of 10 less than 2 miles away last Friday.

Pretty productive day for raptors from the front garden with Hobby passing over, a low male Sparrowhawk + when it got humid in the afternoon a circling pair of Peregrines.
When my dauter was at Uni, she stayed in Wycombe and described Red Kites as being like Pigeons, so common they were and on one occasion, she sent me a picture of one sitting on a neighbours tv aerial.

This all makes me wonder what has slowed / stopped their spread in to the Midlands?
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2020, 11:04   #20
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When my dauter was at Uni, she stayed in Wycombe and described Red Kites as being like Pigeons, so common they were and on one occasion, she sent me a picture of one sitting on a neighbours tv aerial.

This all makes me wonder what has slowed / stopped their spread in to the Midlands?
It's just in the last 2 years they've become a regular sighting from the garden & the numbers rising. Always love to see them!
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2020, 11:18   #21
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It's just in the last 2 years they've become a regular sighting from the garden & the numbers rising. Always love to see them!
FWIW my RK sightings so far this year are double up on last years...from mid Feb. to present in NEast London.
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2020, 12:04   #22
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FWIW my RK sightings so far this year are double up on last years...from mid Feb. to present in NEast London.
That goes no way to anwering my Q though Ken, whay have they not spread further in the the Midlands and I don't count Oxford as the Midlands btw
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2020, 13:22   #23
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Red Kites seem to have generally preferred to fill in their core range before spreading. I remember after going to see the Oxfordshire Ibechiff at Great Tew in 2001 deciding to nip down the M40 to see how easy it was to see the Chilterns kites, because at that time they were still quite scarce in Bedfordshire and we wondered when they were going to arrive en masse.

We had the first pair of kites over the motorway just before we got to the Chiltern scarp, and after turning off we stopped on a hilltop, scanned around, and counted 20-odd. Obviously they found the habitat to their liking and found no need to spread out.

Nowadays we probably have numbers like that in Beds - it’s difficult to drive more than a few miles in much of the county without seeing one, so they’re on their way to Notts.

For some reason the reintroduction in north-east Northants near Peterborough never seemed to do as well as the Chiltern one - more rural, more persecution? It’s possible some of the early north Beds records may have come from there, but more numerous birds in the south and centre of the county probably came from the Chilterns. If the Northants birds had done better they might have made it to Notts quicker.
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2020, 14:00   #24
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That goes no way to anwering my Q though Ken, whay have they not spread further in the the Midlands and I don't count Oxford as the Midlands btw
Andy I was responding to aesthna’s comment regarding “the increase”, as far as the M40 RK’s are concerned...perhaps a more regular supply of offal from local abbatoirs is a factor?
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Old Tuesday 28th April 2020, 19:14   #25
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Red Kites seem to have generally preferred to fill in their core range before spreading. I remember after going to see the Oxfordshire Ibechiff at Great Tew in 2001 deciding to nip down the M40 to see how easy it was to see the Chilterns kites, because at that time they were still quite scarce in Bedfordshire and we wondered when they were going to arrive en masse.

We had the first pair of kites over the motorway just before we got to the Chiltern scarp, and after turning off we stopped on a hilltop, scanned around, and counted 20-odd. Obviously they found the habitat to their liking and found no need to spread out.

Nowadays we probably have numbers like that in Beds - it’s difficult to drive more than a few miles in much of the county without seeing one, so they’re on their way to Notts.

For some reason the reintroduction in north-east Northants near Peterborough never seemed to do as well as the Chiltern one - more rural, more persecution? It’s possible some of the early north Beds records may have come from there, but more numerous birds in the south and centre of the county probably came from the Chilterns. If the Northants birds had done better they might have made it to Notts quicker.

Thanks Dave,
all points seem valid.

Being a similar species in habit and habitat, I've watched the rise of Common Buzzard in Notts over the last twenty odd years. I even get Buzzards over my home occasionally, just a mile from the City centre and I'd have expected the Kites to be thriving to the same pattern.
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