alpine swift


Swifts, known for spending the majority of their lives in flight, are a symbol of summer, particularly for those in London. However, the climate crisis has disrupted their arrival patterns, with swifts now appearing two to three weeks earlier than usual, like the birds observed during the initial Covid lockdown in April 2020.

This spring, an extraordinary occurrence took place with the unexpected arrival of their larger and rarer relative, the alpine swift. These birds, resembling common swifts but larger in size, weighing around 100 grams and boasting a wingspan of approximately 57 centimetres (nearly 2 feet), typically overshoot their intended destination in southern Europe and occasionally turn up in different locations. In March 1990, a notable event occurred when 14 alpine swifts arrived due to intense high-pressure systems over the continent.

However, this spring has witnessed an unprecedented number of alpine swift sightings, some even reaching as far north as Scotland, where the species is considered highly uncommon. These swifts arrived on prevailing south-westerly winds, but there may be additional factors influencing their appearance.

The impact of the climate crisis on bird species breeding in the Mediterranean region could be prompting these birds to seek more favourable nesting areas. Similar to bee-eaters, which successfully raised three chicks in Norfolk last year, alpine swifts might soon establish breeding grounds in unexpected locations like the UK.



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