In the diary below you'll find several links to photos and videos. They can all be found in the Swift diary pics 2010 section.

I saw my first Swifts of this year today, flying pretty high just outside Nijmegen. At first I saw a few, about six. But it soon turned out there were more, about 12. Oh, 15? Oh, man! A whole group of them, about 30! They weren't quiet, so I got to hear them for the first time this year as well. :) I tried taking pictures using my mobile phone, but it focused on the sky instead of on the 30 Swifts... :(

I went on vacation to the Eifel area in Germany the first week of May. I saw my first screaming parties there and found some nest places in a dam, the 'Oleftalsperre' near Hellenthal. I took my first Swift-picture of the year there. It's all I've got at the moment of writing this to use as picture for the 2010 Swift diary.
I got the stereo I use to play Swift calls cd's out from the attick today and tested it. Still works, so I can try again this season to attract Swifts to my still empty boxes...

I've been playing calls today, even though there are very, very few Swifts to be seen. One somewhat spectacular thing happened this morning though. A single Swift flew about four circles around a corner house at the end of our (short) street. By the time I turned on the stereo it had disappeared though. Saw another Swift (the same?) circling a corner house in the street starting at the end of ours. Could this be a 'banger'? (a Swift in search of a nest place)

Finally some response to the Swift-calls I've been playing! Three Swifts flew through the street, I could hear them calling in between the cd-calls. They flew past the nest boxes quite close a couple of times. It was pretty spectacular to see them searching the roof-edges of the houses across the street (a picture of the houses can be seen here. Not really what I was hoping for of course, but still very interesting to see. They slowed down and flew up to the roof edges, only just not clinging onto them. It's not very strange to see them doing that though, there are a lot of nest places in the neighbourhood with entrances at the edge of a roof. Especially in the nearby neighbourhood Koningsholster. At construction of those houses a 'mistake' was made time and time again (the 'edge-tiles' don't fit properly, leaving a hole through which the space under the tiles can be reached. Another possibility is that Swifts built their nest on the edge of the wall. See the Swift diary pictures for 2009 for some examples.
Anyway, that behaviour made me once again consider putting up a box under the eaves on the side of our house. It might be discovered sooner as it's clearly such a well-known place to search for the local Swifts. But it's a lot and tricky work to put a box up there. It's high and I'd like to make a nicely fitting box which requires a nest box roof with the same angle of inclination as our house's roof. I think it's unlikely I'll be able to get that all done this season. And still... In the first season (2008) a Swift clang onto the wall just below the current nest boxes. They were passing very close to the boxes last season as well. So I guess it should be possible to get them to notice the boxes, as far as they haven't yet. I'll just keep trying, it's still early in the season...

After some consideration I decided to modify the entrance holes to my two nest boxes today. I sawed two pieces of wood so that they fitted the old entrance holes and locked them into place with a strip of other wood. Then I drilled holes into the front of the boxes, about 30 mm high and 70 mm wide. I opened the top of both nest boxes to remove an edge I'd made around the old entrance holes. That was meant to prevent eggs and young from accidentally falling out of the hole in the botom of the nest box. A picture of what that looked like can be found here on the diary pictures page for 2008. Upon opening the boxes it was clear both boxes have been used by birds over the winter. Of course I know about the camera box being used by a Great Tit (Parus major, Koolmees in Dutch), see also some videos here and the December 31st 2009 diary entry. But there were not only small bird droppings in the camera box, they were in the other box as well. So on some nights whent he Great Tit wasn't there, it was probably in the other box! :)
It was again quite some work to take off the boxes and put them back up. They're heavy and it's high, unhandy up on a ladder. I'm glad Lisette helped by hanging out of the window and handing me the tools and holding up the boxes... Thanks Lisette! A picture of the 'new' boxes can be found here.

A single Swift circled the house in light rain just before dinnertime today, clearly in response to the calls I started playing when I saw it approach. It disappeared as sudden as it appeared though, after about 4 or 5 circles. Exciting though...

I discovered something really awesome today! The nest bricks in project Hessenberg are being used in their very first Swift season! Read more here!

17:00, I just enjoyed minutes of Swift-action around our house! From behind the computer I noticed Swifts passing low through the street out of the corner of my eye. I quickly turned on the cd which led to three Swifts circling our house frantically. They passed low over the driveway between our house and that of the neighbours, I once saw one fly at about 1 meter high. They also went for the houses across the street, checking out the edges of the roofs, one pretty much hooked onto the corner of the wall of the house across the street. I hope this happens more often, it'll make this house better known among the local Swifts which should increase the chance of one of my nest boxes getting occupied.

At around 19:00 this evening a Swift nearly hooked onto (one of) the nest boxes! There were a couple of Swifts responding to the calls, it was quite a happening. After a while it got quiet, so I went out for an errand. When I got back a couple of minutes later I heard a metallic scratching sound, I immediatly thought there was something in the gutter of our neighbours. And so there was! I saw a Swift's head and wing sticking out of there! I ran inside to get my camera, but when I got back it'd gone. Good thing of course, as I don't want Swifts to get stuck somewhere, but quite a pitty I didn't get to photograph it.

I'm still trembling as I write this... No, no Swift in the box yet. Yet... Maybe it won't happen, I don't know, but it was so very exciting! A single Swift came to check out the calls. It was quiet and kept flying round our house. It may have looked at the neighbours roof once or twice, but nowhere near as much as the Swifts usually do when they come to check things out. It did however check out our house! It went to the side of our roof a couple of times and passed by the gutter at the front, where the boxes are! It went by very close to the boxes a couple of times, mostly flying alongside the gutter. But it also went directly at the boxes a couple of times and hooked onto one about three times! Then some other Swifts passed by and this one went along. :( Not much else this evening, but it was already pretty late, so there wasn't much time for more action anyway. I sooooo hope this one will come back soon and will enter one of the boxes (the camera-one! the camera one! ;)). We'll see...

I haven't been keeping up this diary very well these past few days. But today was worth writing about again! These past few days I've seen that single Swift I wrote about in the previous entry a couple of times. Quite some response to the calls I've been playing. Today at around 10:45 four Swifts passed by, one of which ('the one'?) pretty much hung onto one of the nest boxes! At about 11:30 there were a total of five or six Swifts, again one hung onto one of the boxes. Soooo very exciting!

Quite a bit of attention again these past two days! Two Swifts keep flying straight up to the boxes, hanging onto both of the boxes, once onto a box each! I took some pictures which aren't great as I took them through our double glassed windows AND it's the reflection in a mirror I've placed up against the hedge so I can see the nest box entrances from the living room. Anyway, check out the awesome pictures here! At about 18:15 one entered! It stayed in for about ten minutes. Of course, it was the box without a camera. Alas... I've come up with a trick though... I've put a piece of paper over the non-camera box' entrance. Lets hope the next time one enters it'll be the camera box! Bit shady, I know... Can't help myself! :p

The trick worked! The Swifts were very active again when I came downstairs this morning. It didn't take long before they responded to the calls. They passed a couple of times first, but quite soon one entered the camera box! Unfortunately for some reason I cannot edit the video I recorded of that first visit. Thankfully it came back not long after (or another Swift of course). It was a bit scared when a big car stopped in front of our house and went to sit in a corner for a couple of minutes. After about five minutes it left again. Just over an hour later a Swift entered again! This was a very short visit though, clearly in response to the calls I was playing (of which some can be heard on the video). The Swift let out a couple of very short calls and left again when it found there was no one else there. Right after it left one entered again. It was one of the two Swifts flying around in front of our house at that time and the other one stayed outside even though it may have tried to enter given the short calls the Swift in the box let out after a couple of seconds. It stayed at the entrance for the rest of the time and left after about 7 minutes. About twenty minutes later a so-called banger entered the box. No idea of course if this was the same Swift as before, but it looked excited and left when it found there was no one else there. Over an hour later a Swift entered yet again. After entering it inspected the camera (unfortunately my software was too slow to get nice video images of that), but it seemes to have been disturbed by something (another Swift? Not sure) which led it to sit quietly in the corner of the box. It sat there for quite a while, well over 20 minutes. During that time there was a strange 'yawning session' which I made a clip off. The total video is too long to upload to YouTube and probably a bit boring anyway. So anyway, that's six entries today so far (it's 15:45 as I'm writing this). The videos can be found on the Diary 2010 pictures and videos page.

In total there were nine entries today. The last time one Swift entered the box I was almost sure it'd stay for the night. It entered at around five to ten, but left again at about a quarter past ten in heavy dusk...

I wasn't at home much today (I was in Amsterdam with Bird Watch Netherlands, a very nice day organized for us 'citybird-advisors') so I don't know what went on for the largest part of the day. Nothing this morning before I left. About an hour after I got home a screaming party passed by, three or four birds I guess. A while later there were the two birds again, flying their by now well-known circles in front of our house, the short calls uttered when passing the nest boxes. A couple of near entries. A bit later still the same, but this time one entered, the second one pretty much crashed into it while it was 'climbing' in but didn't follow it inside. It didn't even make a couple more circles, it just disappeared... The Swift that entered preened quite a bit, looked around a bit and after about 6 minutes suddenly decided to get back out there. This all took place around 21:30. I didn't notice any other activity today.
I feel sorry for the Swift that entered, it seems to be trying so hard to get the other one to go inside along with it. And of course I really hope it'll succeed some day soon! The single video of today is also up on the Diary 2010 pictures and videos page. It starts with the sound and short change in light intensity of a first attempted entry, the rest is pretty obvious I guess.

An exciting day today! From the moment I was downstairs this morning I started looking for the Swifts. I started recording the camera's images as soon as I saw Swifts approaching. This way I recorded four or five entries of a single Swift, the second staying in the air each time. I filmed one of these cycles using my photocamera sitting across the street. It's not as clear as I see these things from indoors as the birds cannot be followed as they fly a circle. But the sixth time this cycle took place it was it! The first Swift entered, the second did two or three more circles in front of our house, then entered as well! Both birds screamed as the second one entered. Swifts recognize eachother by sound. The bird that entered last also showed the already present Swift it's throat, a vulnarable spot, showing it was no threat. After a while both birds calmed down and preened themselves and eachother. Soft peeping calls could be heard throughout though. After 19 minutes both birds left again, just within the 20 minute limit for YouTube videos!
Both videos can be found on the Diary 2010 pictures and videos page of course!

The swifts have returned several times since my last diary entry. I haven't seen any Swifts spending the night in my nest box though. They usually just spend about half an hour in the box, preening and looking around. Today was another one of those times. I made clips of the 30 minute video I recorded. One of the entrance of the two Swifts, one of one of them climbing onto the hole in the back of the box and onto the cables of the camera and a clip of the Swifts preening themselves and eachother. The clips can be found HERE on the Diary 2010 pictures and videos page.

I recorded a video today that shows one of the two Swifts in the box working with the nesting material. A very nice thing to see as it shows it's thinking about nesting. :) I'm still working on converting and uploading a clip, it'll appear on the Swift Diary 2010 pictures and videos page soon. As will another set of clips of videos I took with my photocamera today of a Swift leaving the nest box. I've just slowed down one of the clips and will upload that as well as the original version. I also took a picture that isn't all that great that'll end up on the diary pics page. Edit July 11th 2010: the slowed down video was cut very short, today I uploaded a new version that shows the leaving Swift much better. End edit
And just now, working on all this (it's bed time, about 22:30), I opened the software with which I can view the camera's images. The Swifts left around sunset this evening after spending some time preening and working with the nesting material. I didn't hear anything, but one has entered again! It's dark outside now, so I guess this'll be the first time a Swift will be spending the night at our house!

I led an excursion about Swifts today. Only three people attended, but it was nice anyway. We walked through Nijmegen's city centre and I talked about Swifts and showed a couple of nest sites. At a known nest site we found a dead Swift hanging on some kind of wire. I'm not sure, but there might also be a very small dead Swift in the nest entrance. A picture can be found here in the Swift Diary 2010 pictures and videos section. It's a sad scene, but there isn't really anything I can do. The nest entrance isn't very accessable. Besides, pulling out the wire at this time is risky, it's probably attached to the nest containing young. I hope I'll be able to do something about it at some point.

Lisette and I went along with an excursion into the otherwise inaccessable nature reserve Zwanenbroekje this morning. It's a small nature reserve in the Ooijpolder consisting mostly of brushwood (the area used to be agricultural land so it's very rich in nutrition leading to explosive growth of thistles and nettles). The most spectacular thing I got to see was Swifts drinking. We'd seen them foraging in quite a group (20 or 30 I guess) above the fields but when we got to a shallow pool I noticed a Swift drinking. Others followed and I tried to take some pictures. One turned out ok. In hindsight I regret not staying behind and trying a bit longer because when I went back into the Ooijpolder later this afternoon I didn't get nearly as good chances. I did get to see drinking Swifts again (though they may also have been bathing!), but it was a small lake and it happened futher away.
The picture of the drinking Swift and a short, slowed down video I took at the lake can be found here in the Swift Diary 2010 pictures and videos section.

Both Swifts were in the box again this morning. I went outside with my camera and a small tripod and waited. I could hear the Swifts sometimes, either soft calls or just the sound of them moving around. I kept the shutter release half-pressed, focusing the camera on the entrance hole of the nest box while looking at it (not through the camera). As I noticed one about to leave I quickly pressed the button. I knew the other Swift would probably follow very soon, so I half pressed the button again. And indeed, out came the second Swift. They aren't amazing pictures and I would've liked to have had the second picture with the sharpness of the first (or better of course...). Both pictures can be found here in the Swift Diary 2010 pictures and videos section.
In other news, I removed the piece of paper blocking the entrance hole of the other box today. I hope the pair using the camera-box will keep doing so. I often see three Swifts passing by (the pair with another Swift?) or more even, so I hope the other box gets a visit of one of those other Swifts...

It took a bit of effort, but I made a nice movie today (in my humble opinion...). I filmed a Swift entering the nest box for the night at about a quarter past ten. The software of the nest box camera was recording as well at that moment. I combined the two videos. :) Take a look at it here in the Swift Diary 2010 pictures and videos section.

A lot of work on the nest today, pasting the materials together with saliva. I recorded a bit which can be found here.

More work on the nest today. And it took me three long attempts, but I managed to photograph a young Swift in 'Koningsholster' here in Beek today. I took very similar pictures last year. I was hoping for a parent to arrive to feed, but no luck there. The pictures can be found here in the Swift diary 2010 pictures section.
Also a new thing happened today! Not one, but two Swifts decided to spend the night in the nest box! :) A screenshot from the camera can be found along with the young Swift pictures (the video wasn't very spectacular, just a lot of preening really.

Of course when I got up this morning the Swifts had already left the box. They get up so early... But when I looked at the computer screen a bit later there was a single Swift in the box. It seemed like a feather from the nest was sticking up a bit weird, I thought the nesting material had been stuck together quite well. It left a bit later and returned around a quarter past 12 with a beak full of fluff! Not sure what it was, feathers or some kind of seed fluff (I think the latter, perhaps thistle seed fluff which is very available at the moment). It was glued to the nest with saliva and after a while the Swift left again. While I was outside in front of our house trying to photograph the Swifts one returned with nesting material again! It looked fluffy again. Unfortunately the batteries of my camera were empty just at that moment... :( Later today I did record another entrance with nesting material with the nest camera software. Completely different material this time, straws. A bit unhandy perhaps, but I think it's impressive it got a hold of them. I starting recording when I first saw the Swift with nesting material as well by the way. Both videos can be found here on the Swift diary 2010 pictures and videos page.

When I turned on the computer this morning around 5:30 and subsequently the software of the nest box camera, the box was empty. I walked over to the windows to see if there were any Swifts in the air perhaps but didn't see any. But then I heard the familiar sound of a Swift moving on the floor of the nest box. When I looked at the (unfortunately small) screen of the camera-software I saw nothing but a quick passing of a wingtip. The Swift was sitting right in front of the opening, outside the view of the camera. When I heard it move about again without seeing it I thought it might be leaving. I picked up my photocamera and quickly walked outside onto the sidewalk across the street. Stood there for a while, but there was nothing to see. When I got back inside there was nothing to see either, and I didn't hear anything anymore either. Perhaps it left just as I was walking out?
Then this evening when I got home from a(nother) delicious meal at vegetarian Indian restaurant Maharaja (website in Dutch) around 20:15 and turned on the camera I saw a single Swift quietly working with the nesting material a bit. When I looked again a bit later it seemed to be sleeping. Quite early for a Swift I'd think. It didn't last long though, like most sleeping sessions I think. A couple of minutes later it was working on the nest again, glueing stuff together with saliva and pulling loose bits from elsewhere in the box onto the nest. It's beginning to look a bit tidy again. :) And now, as I write this, it seems to be sleeping again. Weird birds... ;)
Then later this evening, around 22:15, the second Swift entered the box. It was greeted with screaming as usual, but I guess the hearing of the Swift already in the box, or the voice of the one entering may not have worked properly. A short fight started, the Swifts grabbing eachothers feet. After they'd let go, the one that entered stayed near the entrance for a while, then went back to the nest-corner. Still looking a bit hostile, the first Swift alowed it to get closer. Then the birds started preening and things calmed down. They spent the night sleeping peacefully alongside eachother. Like I said, weird birds... Videos can, as usual, be found on the Swift diary 2010 pictures and videos page.

Work on the nest again today, with new materials. I tried to photograph an approaching Swift carrying nesting material, but no luck... I managed a picture of some tail feathers sticking out of the box and a (very) weird picture of a Swift that had just left the nest box. I also tried to film Swifts with my photocamera. I made some short clips, one of which of a Swift approaching the nest box with a beak full of nesting material. The other is a Swift leaving the nest box. I slowed down both clips quite a few times so they're not over in a flash, but the quality isn't too great. I made two screenshots of the first video that show the Swift approaching with the nesting material pretty well. I only wish I could've filmed what I saw with my own eyes... At one point as I stood behind the window above which the nest boxes are mounted I saw a Swift approach from about 50 meters away. It approached with a somewhat rocking flying, flying pretty much straight at me. It dived down a bit and then went up the last couple of meters in order to slow down a bit. Awesome...
Recording them with the nest box camera was a lot easier, even though the software wouldn't cooperate at one point (solved by restarting the computer...). I started recoring when a Swift had just entered the box with a beak full of nesting material once, and recorded an entry about twenty minutes after it had left again. :)
The pictures and videos can be found on the Swift diary 2010 pictures and videos page.

A single Swift visited the box this morning. It just worked on the nest a bit, not with new materials as far as I have seen. And I've been trying to film what I saw yesterday, the Swift approaching from some distance away. I placed my camera on a tripod on the window sill and started recording. The camera can film for about 20 minutes at a time, so I just kept walking upstairs every 15 minutes or so to delete the video with nothing on it and to start a new recording. When finally a Swift entered this evening there was nothing to be seen on the camera's video. Not sure what hapened, but something must've gone wrong. :( Oh well. I did take one funny video today. As I noticed the Swift that was here this morning approach the entrance hole, I went outside with my camera on a tripod. I waited and waited... Nothing happened. So I left my tripod on the sidewalk and went to the side of our house to look at the computer at the other side of the room through the window. And guess what happened right at that moment... It's a bit small on the video, so you might want to play it full screen.
That video can be found here on the Swift diary 2010 pictures and videos page.

This is the first evening since a while on which there is no Swift in the box. It's been a single Swift for a couple of days now, I guess that single one left now as well. It'll be a long wait... :(

I took down both nest boxes today. The camera box to try and improve the camera's image, the camera-less box to put a camera in that as well. And of course it was very intersting to see the nest the Swifts made this past season! Of course I took a couple of pictures to share with you all. Take a look at them here on the Swift diary 2010 pictures and videos page.

The nest boxes are back up under the gutter. Thank you very much for your help dear Lisette! The image of the camera in the nest box that is now officially named box 1 could only be improved very slightly. I'm not sure what's wrong with the camera, but compared to the image of the camera in box 2 is much poorer. The infrared light seems to be shining very differently. I do have another mini infrared camera, but I decided not to replace the camera as it's funtioning well enough for it's purpose.
It took some work to get it all done though. The camera of box 1 is connected to cables (1 for video output, 1 for audio output and 1 for power supply) that start under the gutter with RCA connectors, run through a hole in the wooden gutter framing, then through a hole in the roof boarding into the attic. There the wires, including a double wire connected to the tweeter in the nest box (for playing Swift calls) enter a PVC pipe that runs through the wall ending in a socket in the second bedroom, the room in which the desk I'm sitting behind right now was originally planned. But the desk never ended up there, it's in the living room, so now there's a hole in the second bedroom's floor and another PVC pipe in the corner of the living room leads the cables into the crawlspace. There they run over the dusty floor and go back into a short bit of PVC pipe that leads up to a socket under the desk. There they are connected to a device that converts the analog input into a digital signal, a Pinnacle Dazzle DVC (Dazzle Video Creator) 130. That device is connected to my computer with a USB connector.
To connect the second nestbox' camera I split the power supply cable. The camera's use so little power two can easily be connected to a single power supply (in this case an adapter providing a 9V current). Of course the video and audio cables can't be split like that, so I pulled some RCA cables through the hole in the roof boarding and through the hole in the gutter framing. I cut through the video and audio cable of the nest box 1 camera and attached male RCA connectors to one and and female connectors to the other end. Obviously, connecting those means I get to see the images of the camera in nest box 1. Connecting the RCA cables of the second nest box' camera to the cables going into the PVC pipe switches the image to that of the second nest box.
It took some soldering lying down in the corner under the roof and working up on the ladder, so I was quite happy to see it all worked after I was done. I made a short video with each of the camera's and took screenshots of both which can be found here on the Swift diary 2010 pictures and videos page.

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