The 2009 Nestbox Diary
July (part 4)
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21 July - A dull day with only the occasional break in the cloud. Most of the time the sky has been covered with a quite high blanket of cloud with an almost constant drips from them, not enough to class as rain, but sufficient to think twice about leaving a camera outside.
It was the female from STle that was the first out this morning, at 7.38am. 'White-Spot' left at 7.50am. The pair in SWup left at 9.09 and 9.11am.
There were no visits to SWup and only three visits to STle this morning, all by individuals bringing in down. The female visited at 10.31am (left at 10.41am) and 10.55am (left at 11.01am). Her partner's only visit came at 11.06am, when he stayed until 11.24am.
This afternoon the female made the only visit to STle at 2.56pm, bring in more down and staying for 32 minutes. During that stay, SWup was visited by its pair, arriving at 3.09 and 3.11pm. As usual they left together, at 3.48pm.
At 6.13pm a single Swift returned to SWup, and it was still there at 8.30pm while at least ten other Swifts were flying high overhead under clouds that were breaking up somewhat belatedly to reveal a hint of blue!
At 8.37pm it was joined by its partner, just after the female arrived in STle. 'White-Spot' turned up at just before 8.45pm.
22 July - A brighter, if still cloudy (and breezy) morning, and for a change it was the pair from SWup that left first, at 7.05 and 7.06am. Over in STle, the female departed at 7.33am, with 'White-Spot' waiting another four minutes before he headed out.
Up to 6.30pm the only activity seen has been a couple of brief visits by a House Sparrow male to SWlo shortly before 11am. We went out for a while at 4pm. Up to then there had been no sign of Swifts in the sky overhead, but when we returned at just before 6pm I caught sight of a few high above us.
With no daytime visits, this has been the quietest day since the swifts first entered the boxes back on 22 June. It wasn't until 9pm when the first birds returned for the night, one into SWup and the female into STle.
At 9.04pm the Swift in SWup shuffled back over to the entrance, and moments later the second bird arrived. The two headed for the nest cup and settled down quickly.
'White-Spot' arrived in STle at 9.09pm. There was just a bit of preening of his partner in their nest cup before she moved back over to the entrance where she stayed until the male approached her rather tentatively and pecked at her wing feathers. She then came back over to the nest cup where she received a lot more attention over the next few minutes.
23 July - On a cloudy but quite bright, and dry morning it was the pair in STle that left first, the female at 7.20am and her partner at 7.27am. The Swifts in SWup stayed for another hour before the first departed at 8.25am, this one's partner waiting another seven minutes before leaving at 8.32am.
During the morning there was just one visitor - the female brought a beakful of down into STle at 11.37am, and stayed until 11.52am.
As we start the afternoon there are large areas of blue sky between the cumulus clouds but I cannot see a single Swift overhead. When we went into the centre of Aldershot during the afternoon I made a point of spending some time looking of Swifts and saw now there either.
'White-Spot' arrived with some down for STle at 1.37pm. staying in the box for twenty minutes.
Tonight, all four Swifts are in the boxes again. First to arrive was the female from STle, arriving at 9.06pm. A minute later the pair from SWup arrived in quick succession, and 'White-Spot', as usual, was the last to appear at 9.17pm.
The pair in SWup waited until 8.43am before they left, with a quarter of a minute between departures.
There was only one visit during the morning, when the STle female brought down in at 9.58am and left at 10.25am.
The morning has seen bright spells and heavy showers, and the afternoon is starting with blue skies to the north but dark grey clouds and an active thunderstorm to the south.
The darkest clouds were moving off to the east by the end of the afternoon. There was no sign of the Swifts when I took this picture at around 4.15pm.
Incidentally, in the picture you can see the obstacle course that faces low flying birds in our street. Each cable is connected to a house at just below the level of the eaves, but I have yet to see any evidence that a bird has ever collided with one.
By 8.34pm, when the female returned to STle (with down) the skies were virtually clear of cloud. The next bird to arrive entered SWup at 8.48pm, also with down.
I went outside just before 9pm, just in time to see a Swift enter my neighbours' roof space while three others were flying quite high over us.
At 9.10pm the second bird arrived in SWup, and seconds later 'White-Spot' returned to STle, crashing into the box in the usual way to end what has been another quiet day in the boxes.
At 7.51am the first bird left SWup, with its partner following half a minute later. In the meantime, the pair in STle have settled again, this time a bit nearer the exit.
Rather than heading for the exit, by 8am the pair had returned to the nest cup, although a casual look at the webcam would have suggested that there was just one there!
They were still like this twenty minutes later.
It wasn't until 8.45am that they looked as though they were getting ready to leave. As usual it was the female who left first, at 8.55am, and this is 'White-Spot' a moment after he launched himself out of the exit at 8.58am.
The female escaped me again!
Anyway, First to leave was the female from STle, at 9.37am, followed by the bird in SWlo at 9.42am and finally the Swift in SWup left at 9.47am.
That was the last daytime visit to SWup.
STle was visited by 'White-Spot' four times during the day, each time bringing in down. It came at 9.59am (out at 10.11am), 11.06am (out at 11.37am), 12.29pm (out at 12.42pm) and finally at 2.04pm (out at 2.24pm).
Tonight the first to arrive was one of the SWup Swifts at 9.07pm. A minute later the female from STle returned. The second bird entered SWup at 9.15pm, and finally, 'White-Spot' arrived at 9.16pm to be greeted with vigorous preening of his neck!
26 July - A quite bright morning despite an almost compete cloud cover. However, conditions couldn't have been right for our Swifts because both pairs were slow to get started.
They were looking out by around 8am, but it was 8.41am before the female in STle left, with 'White-Spot' following three minutes later.
Across in SWup the pair were much more reluctant to leave, while I waited outside, hoping to photograph them. In fact, they weren't the only Swifts to have a 'lay-in' - a Swift left my neighbours' loft at 9.29am.
Finally, it was 9.36am before the first of the pair left SWup, with the second bird going a minute later, diving so quickly as they left that I missed them completely! Those departures ended another >12 hour overnight stay for the pair.
During the morning, down was brought into STle three times. 'White-Spot' brought some in at 10.02am (left at 10.30am) and 10.41am (left at 11.13am), and the female brought in down at 11.51am. She left at 12.22pm. Interesting that all three visits were around half an hour long.
This time I managed to get pictures of both birds, although despite focusing a couple of feet below the opening I still failed to get the head in focus as they dived away from the box.
After a quiet afternoon, and with drizzle falling outside, the female returned to STle with a beakful of down at 5.41pm. At 5.43pm one of the SWup Swifts also returned with down. This bird was followed in two minutes later by its partner. As of 8.15pm none of the three shows any sign of heading back outside.
If this situation continues it means that the pair from SWup will have spent only just over 8 hours in the air today, having spent 12 hours in the box last night. The female from STle has been out of the box for 9 hours. These figures are far from the popular 'always on the wing' image of Swifts.
At 8.35pm, and with with the cloud cover complete, but quite high (>2000ft) I can see three other Swifts flying overhead - could these be 'White-Spot' and the pair from my neighbours' loft? And the pair in SWup looked for a moment as though they were going to leave, but didn't.
'White-Spot' joined his partner at 8.52pm, although at 9pm she seems more interested in looking out than settling down with him.
27 July - An overcast start to the day, with rain and a cloud base of less than 1000ft at times, and the Swifts seemed to respond accordingly to the miserable weather - the female in STle didn't leave until 9.22am, with 'White-Spot' going four minutes later. The pair in SWup remained until after 10 am, leaving at 10.06 and 10.08am.
There were no visits during the morning. During that time the low cloud moved away and by the early afternoon we were in bright sunshine, with just the occasional shower. The boxes continued to remain empty throughout the afternoon as several heavy showers passed over us from the west. By 6pm the skies were almost clear again.
This evening the first bird to return was the female from STle, arriving with more down at 7.26pm. The first Swift arrived in SWup at 8.22pm, and its partner showed up four minutes later. 'White-Spot also returned early, entering STle at 8.28pm with down in his beak.
I went outside just after his arrival and couple see just two Swifts still flying above us, under broken cloud which was at least a couple of thousand feet up. Perhaps they are the pair from next door.
28 July - On a bright sunny morning the Swifts had an earlier start, with the female from STle leaving at 7.36am and her partner two minutes later. It was another half hour or so before the SWup pair left at 8.11/8.12am, just as I was getting my camera ready for another attempt at departure pictures.
The female returned to STle with down at 8.50am and stayed until 9.07am in what turned out to be the only visit to either box this morning. There were no visits during the afternoon, apart from a Sparrow that entered the right-hand Starling box for just a few moments.
This evening the first arrival was a Swift into SWup at 6.32pm, although it left again at 7.34pm. The first roosting arrival was the female into STle at 7.40pm. Ten minutes later the first of the SWup pair arrived. For a change, 'White-Spot' wasn't the last to arrive. He turned up at 8.45pm, six minutes before the last bird entered SWup.
29 July - Back to mainly grey skies today with only brief bright spells. The cloud is quite high (>3000ft) and there is a south-westerly strong breeze.
In the boxes it is one of those quiet days with no daytime visits once the Swifts left in the morning.
It was the birds in SWup that left first, at 8.48 and 9.07am. The female from STle left at 9.08am, but 'White-Spot' waited until 9.40am before he headed out.
This evening it was the female from STle was the first to return, at 5.34pm. The SWup pair returned at 6.55 and 7.15pm.
30 July - Despite a bright and sunny start to the day, the Swifts didn't make a particularly early start, with the female from STle leaving at 8.01am. 'White-Spot' going a minute later, and the pair in SWup waiting until 8.30am when they left within a few seconds of each other.
IT was another day with no visits, but when the female returned to STle at 7.59pm she did bring in some down. The next bird to arrive was one of the Swifts from SWup, at 8.32pm, and then at 8.37pm both the second bird from that box and 'White-Spot' arrived at the same time, bringing the day to an early end, despite the skies being almost clear this evening.
31 July - A bright day, although as evening begins the sky is completely covered with a layer of high cloud.
It was another late start for the Swifts. The pair in STle left first, with the female going at 8.46am with her partner heading out two minutes later. It was 9.09am before the pair from SWup left, in quick succession, as usual.
There was just one visit to the boxes during the day, by 'White-Spot' - he brought some down into STle at 12.23pm, leaving at 12.35pm.
At 8.23am, while both pairs were still settled in their boxes, a House Sparrow paid a longer visit to STri, staying for several minutes this time without, it seems, disturbing the Swifts next door.
Tonight the four Swifts ended the month by all arriving within three minutes of each other. First in was one of the birds from SWup at 8.48pm. Two minutes later, the second bird arrived at the same time as the female entered STle, and within half a minute she was joined by 'White-Spot'.
On a technical note, there may be a bit of disruption to the diaries over the coming days, as my PC has decided to become a bit of a pain, freezing without warning, after periods ranging from a couple of hours to a minute or so. While I try to sort out the problem I may need to switch to using my laptop, although that isn't as convenient.
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