Groups of a dozen or more swifts have again been observed swooping, swirling and squealing high overhead in several locations – above roads such as Manor Road, Fitzjohn Avenue, Granville Road, and at open land at Whitings Hill, Dollis Valley, Whalebones and the Byng Road playing fields.
Ornithologist David Martens, who delivers leaflets encouraging householders to monitor the number of swifts arriving from Africa, has been encouraged by the number nesting in the High Barnet locality.
At least two colonies have built nests – four or five nests have again been established in houses in Fitzjohn Avenue, Cedar Lawn Avenue and Manor Road and three nests have been spotted half a mile away in Granville Road.
“We’ve had a very good breeding season for all sorts of threatened species because of the fine weather this spring and early summer,” said Mr Martens.
“Swifts do seem to have benefited as well and it is so encouraging to hear they’ve returned to regular nesting places.
“But swifts are so dependent on finding suitable spots for nesting and modern houses have so few nooks and crannies which is why the annual swift awareness week is aimed at encouraging householders to take an interest and install a swift nest box if at all possible.
“I saw 14 swifts flying together over the Byng Road playing fields and Shire golf course – a truly amazing spectacle.”
Peter Lyons, another swift enthusiast, counted around 20 flying above Manor Road.
Tim Friend of Fitzjohn Avenue is one of the householders who was delighted to see the swifts return in early May.For the second summer running a pair has occupied the swift box installed under the eaves. “We could hear the young squealing and then they fledged. So at least one brood has made it.”
To his great dismay Cedar Lawn Avenue resident Alex Coltman has again failed to attract swifts to a nest in the box under the eaves of his house. “Let’s hope some of the young birds have checked it out and take up residence next summer.”
In Granville Road, two pairs have established nests under the eaves of one property where holes in the woodwork holes provide access; at a second house, a gap in the soffit board is the entry point.
Mr Martens says he has been encouraged to see ten or more swallows above the fields for grazing horses around the former Arkley stables in Barnet Road.
“These swallows are nesting nearby and can easily be seen along the boundaries of the woods around Whitings Hill.”