It’s Sunday morning and I’m a week into my new job in the bowl of the valley below Lanjaron…and I thought it was hot up on the hill! My new place of work sits beneath an imposing ridge, an impressive rockface that curves round to the south of the village. The cries of Lesser Kestrels have rung out from the crags throughout the summer but this morning a new call grabbed my attention. A chorus of trills up over the cliff had me looking skyward and there they were…a group of maybe 30 or so Alpine Swifts, wheeling and swirling around the rockface in tight formation, looking for all the world like a flock of waders.
I’ve been thrilled to find this impressive bird in twos and threes amongst the throngs of Swifts and Hirundines around the village in recent weeks but this was something I hadn’t seen before. They have stayed local since their arrival, sometimes noisily chasing in a single mass, sometimes breaking off, perhaps to feed.
At this time of the year I’m guessing there’ll be juveniles in this group…are they communally preparing youngsters for the big push south? I would have thought they’ll spend most of August this side of the Mediterranean, before heading for wintering grounds in Africa some time in September.
Whatever their intentions are, with a wingspan of nearly two feet their scythe-like wings and snow white chests make for a spectacular aerial display. I’m hoping they’ll be around for a while. Watch this space, we’ll keep you posted…