Notes from St Tiggywinkles: Be Swift and head to town for these birds

Baby swift being fed
Baby swift being fed

Thame is the place to see swifts.

Just walk down the High Street or the Aylesbury Road and duck as these special little birds, screaming like banshees, rocket low above your heads at breakneck speed.

It is a wonder that they manage to avoid clashing into anything and each other.

They are probably nesting high up on the Town Hall or the Parish Church.

Tiggywinkles gets to meet many of these masters of the sky.

In late spring they arrive after a long migration from West Africa.

It is no surprise that some are exhausted, crashing to the ground unable to take off again in the quest to get back to their previous nest hole.

They don’t bother with much nest material in their precarious nest holes.

But there is inevitably no barrier to stop the babies from falling out.

And they do, providing many destitute orphans for our bird nursery.

Then our troubles begin.

Swifts have very soft beaks which open wide trawling for flying insects as they race at that breakneck speed across the sky.

Then cannot actually peck.

Consequently in our bird nursery we have to gently prise their mouths open and, literally put a waxworm into the back of their throats.

As they grow and become more adventurous we provide a cat scratching pole as they do like to hang vertically with their tiny, powerful, almost hawk like talons.

They really are miracles of adaptation.

After that instance of their first flight, either from their nest, or from our nursery, they do not land again for up to three years.

It truly is worth a to visit Thame between the end of May and the beginning of August to hear and see the masters of everything sky.