Swifts fly south early to escape rain

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WET summer weather has done nothing to help a bird which has seen its population drop by almost 40 per cent in Yorkshire over the last 15 years, experts from the RSPB said yesterday.

Flocks of swifts, which arrive in Britain in the spring before migrating back to Africa in the autumn, are already leaving the country this year because of the “disastrous” weather.

Experts said the cold and wet spring and summer months this year have meant fewer flying
insects for them and their 
chicks to feed on and recent warm weather has not helped enough.

Edward Mayer, of Swift Conservation, says; “It has been a disastrous summer for many swifts and we fully expect to see a decline in the breeding figures this year.

“People are telling us that the number of swifts that arrived here several months ago was pretty consistent with last year, but after that they disappeared again as they flew away to wherever they could find food.

“We’ve seen adult birds struggling through storms and ending up underweight because the cold and wet weather has meant fewer flying insects for them to feed on.

“They are nesting, but as far as we can tell, without much success. Adults have even been pushing unhatched eggs out of their nests because they haven’t been able to feed themselves sufficiently, let alone incubate the eggs and feed young mouths too.”

Martin Harper, RSPB conservation director, said the swift was also struggling because there were less houses and buildings which could play host to their nests.

He added: “Changes in the way we’re building and renovating means there are fewer nest spaces. We need to make sure the right choices are made when developing so these birds aren’t left homeless.”