Crane Spotter – May 2016 – Swifts Will Be With Us Any Day!


Few birds are as aptly named as the Swift. May 5th or 6th usually brings in the screaming bulk of Cranleigh’s population. And they will be with us only until the end of July when they depart en-masse overnight back to Africa.

They particularly favour nesting under the eves of the older houses to the north of the fire station. A big thanks to the folks there who make this threatened species welcome!

Swifts are amazing. You can see them almost anywhere around the village as they dive at up to twice the national speed limit – 140 mph. They eat, drink and sleep on the wing. They even mate on the wing and only stop flying, after four years, when they lay eggs and raise young. They can live up to 21 years and cover an estimated three million miles. They make me feel all poetical:

The Swifts

Here they come!
Chasing the days
With the squeal of summer.
Wheeling, peeling,
Screaming, gleaming,
Skimming sky,
Creaming cloud,
Swirling, whirling.

Jet black
Tandem teamwork
Making a clean sweep
Through the heavens.

Nifty drifters,
Scything machines,
Twisting wing stars,
Dodging darts.
Amazing arts!
Controlled patrol,
Nip ‘n tuck,
Dip ‘n duck.

A circling circus of
Flashing fliers,
Dashing criers,
Swiping skies
Clean of flies.
Lofty expectations.
Groundless possibilities.

Poised to pounce,
Enthralling, stalling,
Fooling and falling.
Whoosh and slow,
To and fro,
Stop and go.

Swooping low,
Whish – they’re above!
Wish these ones we love,
Such faithful sojourners,
Were less rapid returners.
We crane our necks,
Now distant specks . . .

It’s a swift exit.

Twitter – @Crane_Spotter

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