The Swift(Apus apus) is the doyen of the summer skies. Soaring  high in the sky , screaming it’s extraordinary song and  flying at breakneck speed  to its nest, it  is one of the most exhilarating sights of the summer.

 “Our “Swifts are back on the Barrow. Nesting where they always nest, in tiny crevices high up on some of our beautiful granite bridges.

Swift high in the sumemr sky

Swift high in the summer sky

 They are not easy to photograph!

Swifts are an  exclusively aerial species. Their flight is rapid as it wheels and dashes through the air with frequent and often random turns of  direction Their short legs are  used to cling onto masonry .It does not voluntarily settle on the ground. sometimes it flies low over rivers and lakes and at other times it flies high in the sky, looking for insects  in the summer air.One of the great sights  on warm summer evenings are flocks of swifts flying ever higher in circles until lost to view. Their cries floating down to us mortals stuck on the ground  , as we crane our necks upwards to see their dizzying flight.

Their nests are simple and they usually nest in colonies in natural fissures of cliffs or bridges or parapets.They lay 2-3 white eggs at the end of May. Interestingly incubation is by both sexes. The young fly after about 6 weeks. They are single brooded.

Swifts arrive in Ireland in late April and in May. The return movement is virtually over by the end of August. So it is a quick visit,  raise the young and fly back again.

So look skywards from now on and if you hear unmerciful screaming high in the skies, welcome  the Swifts back, enjoy their aerial acrobatics, because they don’t hang around these birds and you certainly don’t want to miss this magnificent summer visitor and  acrobat of our Irish summer skies.