In the diary below you'll find several links to photos and videos. They can all be found in the Swift diary pics 2011 section.

I saw my first Swift of the year today. It was not a very satisfactory sighting though, I only saw the bird as a tiny silhouette through my 10x binoculars and only for about 1.5 seconds... I saw it standing in the back garden looking in the direction of the city of Nijmegen. I think the Swift was flying either above the edge of Beek, or above the village of Ubbergen. Last year I saw my first ones on April 21st.

More Swifts today! I took my camera with me to work, expecting to see some as the weather was really nice. And indeed I did see some. The first one above the lateral moraine near Nijmegen, pretty much above the headquarters of the company Royal Haskoning. I don't know why, but I often see Swifts at this point early in the season. It's where I saw my first ones last year for example. I was able to take a picture of this single Swift, though it was flying so high that even zoomed in 20 times, it's still just a small silhouette. The picture can be found here on the Swift diary pics 2011 page.

Saw another Swift today. After several high flying Swifts these past days, this one flew above our street! Not really low, but it came down a bit as I watched it, hoping, of course, that it'd come down and fly into my nest box. But that didn't happen yet, so I'll just have to be patient.

Finally some more Swifts above Beek today. So I thought I'd go and look around a bit in the Swift-richer areas of this village. Saw 5 above one, about 7 above the other. A nice entry into a known nest site there. As I was looking around there, my phone went off. My girlfriend. I hoped and thought it might be... And indeed! A Swift has returned to the nest box today! It spent about 15 minutes in there, preening. I hope it'll return later this evening for a good nights sleep. A screenshot of the nest box camera can be found here.

And indeed, the Swift came back, about an hour later which was at a quarter to nine. It stayed there for the night. A video of the entry can be found on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.
When I looked this morning, it was looking outside (I can only see part of it's body, the tale and wingstips in that case). At precisely 20 to 6, still in twilight and with not a single other Swift to be seen, it left.

I saw 'my' Swift in the nest box again, early this evening. It left again after a little while. About half an hour later I went to sit outside on the path to the front door with a cup of tea. Passing people probably wondered what I was doing there... I sat there for a while, watching the calmly flying around Swifts and finishing my tea. Then my patience, though it was quite nice sitting there, was rewarded quite nicely. Because one came down, flew two circles and went into the box with one of those gorgeous 'swoops', the wind rushing past the wings clearly audible. Later this evening, sitting behind the computer, I watched the preening being alternated with some glue-activities on the nest. Wouldn't it be scary if a partner came rushing in while you were sitting there quietly working on the nest? Something that's quite possible to happen one of these days. It's also quite possible that they met eachoter outside and come in shortly after one another. It'll be wait and see, if I even get to see it of course.

Tonight 'my' Swift that returned the day before yesterday doesn't have to spend the night alone! Earlier this evening, two Swifts passed by the nest boxes, calling. I went outside with a cup of tea again and sat down in front of the front door, with my photocamera this time. After a while I saw two Swifts approaching. After a couple of dives and passes, one entered. The second flew a circle again and entered as well, followed by some screaming from inside the box. As I write this the Swifts are preening a lot, themselves and eachother, peeping softly very often. The wait is on for eggs now! Videos can be found once again on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

Intriguing and very exciting... And annoying, because I don't know anything for sure (yet?). Was it a mistake that caused one Swift to enter box 1 and a bit later another one box 2> They called and clearly heard eachother. The Swift in box 2 sat against the wall beside which the wall of box 1 starts. The camera images differ, but I get the idea the Swift in box 2 looks younger. That might just be the difference in camera images though, the images from box 2 show more detail. The bird in box 2 shows light edges of it's wing feathers and more of a light colour above the bill. Especially when compared to the bird in box 1, but again, difference in camera image quality... Compare the screenshots on the Swift diary pictures and videos 2011 page and take a look at the video there as well.
After a while, the Swift from box 1 left and after about 15 minutes, so did the one from box 2. They flew around low and through the street right after that. I guess the bird from box 2 is one of my pair and just made a mistake. But the very very slim chance that this was a new bird that followed one of the birds of my breeding pair and went into the other box on purpose makes my hands tremble...

When I got home later this evening, my pair was in box 1 and there was no Swift in box 2. I guess it was just a mistake after all.

After I came home this afternoon around half past four, soaking wet from the (otherwise very welcome) rain, I immediatly turned on the computer and nest box camera and software to see if maybe my pair was in the box. And indeed, there they were. Preening, working on the nest and sometimes looking outside. On several occasions, I thought they'd leave, but they didn't leave untill something like ten past eight. And not for long, they returned only ten or fifteen minutes later. Somewhere during the first stay in the box I made a very cute video that can be found on the Swift diary pictures and videos 2011 page.

I recorded some nice nest-building activity today. It's clearly visible how several loose bits are being glued to the nest using saliva. The video can be found here on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

There was one Swift in each box again today. Another mistake I'm sure. The Swift in box one called, but the one in box two stayed where it was for quite a while. It was even glueing some nesting material together. :/ After a long time it left.
Later this evening I filmed the entry of both Swifts in the right nest box (number one). I also recorded the entry with the nest box camera, but unfortunately I made a mistake, deleting the folder that contained that video and some footage of the Swift in box two earlier today. :(
The video I made using my photocamera can be found here on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

I didn't expect the Swifts to be in the nest box when I turned on the camera when I came home from work around half past four Thursday afternoon, but there they were. I thought they would leave to fly around a bit in the evening to return later for the night, but they didn't leave at all. They just sat there, preening a bit, sticking some loose bits to the nest. But mainly just sitting on the nest... Would there already be an egg? But, like I said, they just sat there on the nest, so I couldn't see.
This morning before we went to work, my girlfriend and I looked, but they still just sat there, so no idea yet. So I wondered all day, would there be an egg already...? So when I came home from work again I immediatly turned on the camera. And there it was! A first egg! :D See the video on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page!
After that a bit of bad news though... One Swift in each box again. The one in box 1 (the one with nest and egg) left the box twice, no doubt looking for it's mate, but he or she was just preening in box 2! In the meantime, darkness fell, so I guess they'll be spending the night along. I've placed a bit of tape on the front of box 2, hoping that'll make it a bit more recognizable and this won't happen again. Maybe I'll have to close box 2 with a bit of paper again (see also the June 24th 2010 diary entry). Open it again some time in June perhaps, to allow Swifts looking for a nest site to discover box 2.
I feel bad for the Swift in box 1 though. Especially in the early evening, it was so restless. I hope this will have a happy ending and no permanent damage was done...
As I was writing this (it's around half past ten in th evening now) the Swift in box 2 almost left! It was halfway out! I was on the street with a flashlight to help it find it's way to box 1 should it leave, but it didn't...

Finally... After sleeping in two seperate boxes tonight en entering into two seperate boxes twice or so this morning, both Swifts entered box no. 1 around 16:50. The first entered at once, the second flew around a bit longer, made what seemed to be two attempts and entered on the third. It was greeted with a scream after which they sat comfortably next to eachother.
It's still exciting though... Will there be a second egg today? And will they sleep together again tonight?
I think I may also just have missed seeing them mate on the nest. I was preparing diner when I heard a scream. That happens often, it's part of the Swifts normal communication. Heard it again a bit later and went to take a look. I think I saw one Swift coming down from the back of the other. They stayed in what seemed like an unhandy position, then went on with daily life, preening and such.

Only one Swift left this morning, the other stayed on the nest. I suspected a second egg, but then I saw it seemed one egg was in the corner of the nest box, just outside the nest. Later both birds left and I was able to see there was indeed a second egg. I don’t think they’re going to get the first egg back into nest, so I hope there's at least one new egg to replace it.
See also the short video on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

Only one Swift left this morning, the other stayed on the nest. I suspected a second egg, but then I saw it seemed one egg was in the corner of the nest box, just outside the nest. Later both birds left and I was able to see there was indeed a second egg. I don’t think they’re going to get the first egg back into nest, so I hope there's at least one new egg to replace it.
See also the short video on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

May 16th was an excellent day, Swift-wise. On my way back home from work I got a great look at some very low flying Swifts again. Again, as it was at the place where I saw them last year and the year before like this as well. It was above the road 'Nieuwe Rijksweg' or N325 between the villages Ubbergen and Beek and aboe the ditch/stream running beside it. They sometimes flew only about a meter above the road, evading speeding cars. Quite scary sometimes, but very impressive at the same time.
When I got home I turned on the nest box camera, as usual, to see if anyone was there. It turned out the egg that ended up beside the nest was back in there! So very unexpected! I'm so proud of them! :) I really didn't think they'd even try to get it back into the nest, but even if they would, that they wouldn't manage to get it out of that corner with that tiny beak of theirs, but I clearly underestimated them!

Yesterday, on May 17th, breeding may well have started. Sometime in the evening a single Swift entered the nest. It's mate entered around a quarter past nine. This morning I saw one of the Swifts leave, but it returned after only a minute or three! Maybe that was because it's mate didn't follow, something that did happen up until now? I'll have to wait and see if there'll still be a Swift on the nest this afternoon. In that case I guess it's very likely they've started breeding.
A screenshot of the two eggs, neatly in the nest can of course be found on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

When I came home this afternoon there was a single Swift on the nest. I thought it had started breeding. When, in between unpacking the groceries, I looked again about 10 minutes later, he or she had gone to sit at the entrance opening and I saw three eggs is the nest! I hope there'll be a great summer to support 'my' couple to raise three young. Swifts lay 2 or three eggs and the amount of young that make it is higher in nests of two eggs. If a three-egg nest is succesful depends greatly on the weather.

Later this evening the mate returned and the bird on the nest immediatly left the nest and headed for the entrance opening. A nice switch I thought. I went to stand in the open front door and saw a Swift fly off. Just a couple of second later, there went the second bird as well. Ok... I guess there both felt like having some fun with the other Swifts, because there's a nice amount (for Beek) flying around again. A couple of minutes later three or four birds came by screaming. Nice!

A bit later again one bird was on the nest. I waited and waited for the second bird to return. When it had gotten really dark, I checked the images of the number two nest box camera. And there it was again! It was clearly very restless, running from side to side and staring out of the entrance opening. But it had gotten dark, so it didn't leave anymore. Strange, yesterday they independantly flew into the right box without any difficulaty at all. Any way, another night of sleeping seperated I guess. I'm glad there's one on the eggs.

A video of the restless Swift in the wrong box and a screenshot of the three eggs can be found on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

Brooding definately started after the last entry. The Swifts take turns, often the one brooding has to be pushed off the nest for the other to take over. There is still considerable work being done on the nest. During brooding there's the continious gluing loose bits to the nest, but today there were a lot of entries with nesting material. I filmed on such entries standing in front of the open window upstairs. It happens very fast of course, so in addition to the regular speed entry, I slowed the action down and added that to the same video. It can be found on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.
Also on that page are several recordings I made with the nest box camera software today. The last clip is a combination of two clips taken from a single recording 45 minutes long. The Swift that entered with nesting material gives a nice display of how big the mouth is despite the small beak.

I filmed a Swift leaving the nest box this evening. Not very spectacular, but I think it's nice that the bird could be followed a little while. The video can be found here on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

Still a bit behind with updating my site, but of course I can't resist making an entry for this special event as soon as possible! The first of the Swift eggs has hatched! After about 20 days of brooding I caught a first glimpse of something small moving yesterday. I started recording immediatly, but of course that didn't go as quickly as I wanted. Thankfully, the mate of the brooding bird returned and I got another look at the tiny young Swift. You have to watch carefully to see practically nothing, but there's a video on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page!

I just watched a second parent come home. During feeding I caught glimpses of a second young! A clip that shows at least one of the young pretty good can be found on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page!

I keep trying, but I haven't been able to spot the third young Swift, if it's there of course. It should be I think, as I regulary get to see two young, even though some effort is needed for that already. The parents return home regulary to feed the young. As I'm writing this another entry of a parent with a clearly filled throat. Filled with insects, caught despite the not so great weather at the moment. The bird that enters pushes the bird on the nest aside to feed the young. That usually happens with it's back to the camera, so I don't get to see much. So I'm still not sure if all three eggs hatched. I can't hear it either, even though the soft peeping of the young can be hear when I turn up the volume really high. Of course I will keep an eue on things, it's pretty much impossible not to... ;)
Yesterday I filmed Swifts rushing past our house by the way. What an awesome day! So much action! I'm not sure yet if the videos show that very well, I haven't seen them yet. I'll put them on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page at June 5th as soon as possible if they're worth while. I hope so of course!

I managed to catch a glimpse of the third young today! See also the video on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

The young are already growing rapidly! The parents are having difficulty covering the young by sitting on them. I've put a funny short video of it on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page. From that same original (45 minutes long) comes the second video on that page. It shows the young being fed.

I recorded a nice bit of feeding today. Followed nice and clearly visible by a way, known to me, but erhm, not so tasty, to keep the nest clean... The video can of course be found on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page!

On the past couple of days I uploaded five new videos. They can be found on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page. The titles above the videos explain what can be seen.

The diary was quite a bit behind unfortunately. I've put up videos from June 22nd to present time on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page. On July 8th I also took a couple of picture of one of the young looking out of the nest box. :) In the past time, the three young have grown considerably! The changes can be seen clearly in the videos. The down feathers on the back of the young dissapears last. After that, the young can be distinguished by looking for several details. The face is paler in colour for example as the young have a pale coloured forehead, as well as a pale coloured throat patch that the parents have as well. Also, the young have light feather edges, clearly visible on the long feathers of the wings. On the last videos, the young are approx. 30 days old. They leave the nest at about 40 days, so there's only about a week left before I'll have to miss the young... :(
Oh yeah, completely forgot! I also took some pictures today of the young Swifts looking out of the entrance openingen! :) A direct link to them.

I recorded some strange behaviour today. The young Swifts responded to something in the way they do when a parent enters, but that wasn't the case. Perhaps one of the young saw a parent approach that didn't enter in the end? Because a couple of minutes later, I recorded both parents coming in to feed. Both recordings can be found on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

Some excellent practising today! Of course, I've seen some good practise being done before, but today's was really impressive. The sound of the wings flapping and the jumping on the tips of the wings! Really great stuff! The video can of course be found on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

They're gone! All three young fledged this morning! I came downstairs, opened the nestbox-camera-software and saw only two young. That's happened before, one can sit just outside the view of the camera in front of the entrance opening. But when both young went to sit there, there was very little room left for a third... I started recording the video, took my camera and binoculars and went outside. I was there for less then two minutes when one left! Mere seconds later the second left! Later, both parents came into the nest box. I didn't see signs of a full throat as I expected. Either way, I hope the adults will stay for a couple of days, though I wouldn't blame them if they left... The weather is quite poor, very windy, cold for this time of year and wet. So possibly this first successfull season is already over... I'm going to miss them. I wish these first young of the starting "Kühnen-colony" all the best! And I hope the parents will return next summer for another succesfull breeding season! Unfortunately, no video from the fledging young filmed outside. Just a quick video of them leaving the nest box on this page: 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011'.

In the evening, both parents returned to spend the night. One of them had a clearly filled throat this time. Filled with a bolus of insects meant for the no longer present young... From the moment I noticed there was a bird in the nest box it took about 10 minutes before he or she began to swallow it. I don't know how long this bird was in the box before I noticed as I didn't notice the entry. A video of the swallowing of the food can be found on the above mentioned page.

This evening a small group of Swifts came screaming past the house a couple of times again. Very nice after a couple of days of relative silence in this aspect. Later I heard more screaming, but from very, very far away. I grabbed my binoculars and started 'scanning'. I found a group of about 50 Swifts, very high up in the sky. I thought maybe my parents would be among them, but this evening around 10 they arrived with an interval of about three seconds. See the video! here on the 'Swift diary pictures and videos 2011' page.

After all three young fledged on July 18th, both parents kept returning to spend the night in the nest box. Yesterday only a single bird spend the night in there. Today, the box remained empty... :( I hope to see both these hard working birds again at the end of April 2012 and hope many young Swifts will fledge from my nesting facilities. If a nice colony develops, I can start using the name 'Kühnen-colony'. :)

The doorbell rang this evening. It was Gijs Kurstjens, an ecologist I know only by name through mailinglists. He was holding a box that contained... A juvenile Swift! The poor bird had been found by Gijs' neighbours here in Beek. Gijs knew about my love for Swifts and though maybe I knew what to do with a found Swift. After some phone calls I weighed the bird. Judging by the feathers the Swift has to have been at least 30 days old. Swifts fledge at about 40 days old, Around 30 days they normally weigh 50 grams or even more. At fledging some 40-45 grams, they loose some weight in the last couple of days before fledging. This found Swift however weighed only 20 grammes! It didn't look good either, cowered and far to calm, peeping quietly all the time. I didn't think the bird's chances were good and I wasn't the only one that felt that way. After some consideration I decided to try and recuperate it. Sitting in Lisette's hands and covered by a towl for warmth I used a swab to give the little Swift some dextrose solution. I'm not sure if that caused it, but after a while the Swift turned from a 'sleepy' state to a wide awake state! With eyes wide open the bird looked around vividly, it was an awesome transformation! It didn't last long though, the Swift quickly turned back to it's sleepy state. The 'waking up' happened another two times. Later in the evening, Eline Lauret came by. She's chairman of the Dutch Association for Swift Protection (GBN) and lives in the nearby city of Nijmegen. She took the Swift home and managed to feed it some wettened cat food. The bird was very active and tried to climb out of the box. The next morning things seemed very wrong, but the Swift probably weared itself out trying hard to leave the box. Eline fed it some energy-rich food and dextrose solution and wanted to take to bird to a vet. He didn't want to help the Swift though, no idea why not. So the bird was brought to a bird shelter. It was very active again at that time, it was hardly possible to even hold the bird. Both the people at the bird shelter and Eline think the Swift has good chances.
This was the second time I held a Swift in my hands, such a special feeling! I really hope this beautiful bird makes it of course. It's a strange idea to think it will probably have to find it's way to Africa all along. There are no other Swifts in the bird shelter at the moment. To be continued! And another big thank you to Gijs and Eline for their great care!

See the Dutch 'regular' diary of August 18th for pictures and videos!

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