Tuesday, June 29, 2010

confrontation 2, careless, swifts


 Having abandoned the chip wrapper, the gull takes on a new challenge the dimensions of which he is contemplating at present.

In Ventnor on the Isle of Wight we pass a solicitor's office with  the name Careless and Kemp on the fascia.

Outside the Seaview hotel we drink a chilled Gamay (same grape as Beaujolais) from the South West of France, and watch and listen to swifts diving and screaming overhead. For me no summer is complete until I have heard and seen these magical  birds. Apparently their numbers are dwindling, so evidence of their presence here in Seaview raises the spirit even more than a perfect summer evening added to which is the curious  and delightful coincidence of bumping into my nephew Ben.   Quite unknown to us, he has been staying at  the hotel over the weekend. Sad that he has to return to London as we arrive, but there is time to swim and have a drink before he leaves.

5 comments:

marja-leena said...

The swifts sound magical - and made me realize my own ignorance about many birds. It sent me looking it up on the web, and yes we have black swifts here but I'm not sure if I've seen them. Now I will look closer...

Wonderful coincidence to meet your nephew. Your little vacation sounds quite delightful.

Lucas said...

What a brilliant conincidence, meeting Ben!
Regarding the swifts I have got this from the RSPB whose newsletter I subscribe to:
"We'd like to find out where swifts are seen and where they're nesting. Look out for low-level screaming groups of swifts (that means they're breeding nearby) or where you've seen swifts nesting - perhaps entering a roof or hole in a building (if you can see the nest, it's not a swift). The best time to look is around dusk on a warm, still evening, or early morning"
The RSPB is worried about swifts and would be pleased with your sighting.

Lucas said...

HAPPY BIRTHDAY to HEIDI!
We sent a card and an email only probably reached on or after the day you travelled....

Barrett Bonden said...

There are technical differences between swifts, swallows and house martins but, forsooth, I would not be a pedant. It is their aerobatics which matter and watching them swoop and climb over our holiday pool has led me into a failed sonnet which lumbers kilometres behind their careless grace. Yet when we got home we found the house martins (I have Mrs BB's expert confirmation of their identity) had returned. In the evening I am granted a view of a high-speed reverse parabola which ends - all energy mysteriously dissipated in 0.0 msec - as the bird enters its mud-bricked nest at the apex of the eaves. Evidence of their return is more mundanely proclaimed by blobs of droppings on the horticultural tool store immediately beneath.

Plutarch said...

M-l Magical they are. Apparently, apart from when they nest, they barely land, and sleep at 6000 ft on the wing. This is according to the RSPB and is to be believed. A newly fledged swift may remain airborn for as long as two years.

L It was extraordinary. Heidi will be thanking you for the card etc.


BB Martins are related to swallows, only smaller and have a shorter tail, also forked like swallows. Swifts are the biggest of the three similar birds with longer wings, but their chief distinguishing feature is their scream, which always seems to me to emphasise their wildness and freedom from convention, even avian convention