The UK’s swifts return every year to nest here after spending the winter in Africa, but have been arriving late this year and the RSPB have received numerous calls and emails from concerned people.
The migration undertaken by the swifts each year is full of challenges, but it is thought that storms and cold wet weather have been making their journey even harder than usual.
“There has been some really appalling spring weather this year in Italy, France, Spain and the Balkans,” says swift expert Edward Mayer, who runs the Swift Conservation website.
“Temperatures should have been in the 30s but were in the low teens, and much lower at night, with prolonged rain storms making things even worse. This suppresses the swifts’ flying insect food, soaks and chills them – and can kill them”.
There have been reports from Italy and Spain of swifts dying from starvation and hypothermia as they struggle to feed and fly in the stormy weather.
Swifts often face an additional challenge when they do eventually reach the UK and find that their nesting sites have been blocked up.
Swift Awareness Week between 22 – 30 June aims to celebrate these beautiful migratory birds and to encourage everyone to help them.
Main image: Swift in Cambridgeshire. © Ben Andrew/RSPB