Sunshine’s symbol slips out off Hackney

THE SWIFT, the magnificent swallow-like bird that migrates to Europe every spring, is about to return to Africa.
One of the London departure points of Apus apus is North Hackney. London Wildlife Trust is offering the chance to see swifts assemble over the East Reservoir Community Garden, London N4 2RH,  as they prepare for departure. You must book a place — phone Mark on0208 802 4573 – then be at the garden on Sunday 25 July 2010 by 11am.But first phone Mark on 07971 077 084 to check that weather conditions cause cancellation of the observation event.

This year Loving Dalston first noticed a flock of three swifts drifting over St Mark’s conservation area on 4 May, and as numbers have increased, has on many warm evenings been enjoying the Battle of Britain-type dogfights of up to 100 of the super-skilled aviators. Their speed, more than 170kph, has prevented my taking a photograph to post.
Like the swallows and the cuckoos, these quasi merlins are harbingers of warm weather so, as Shakespeare did not say, parting is such swift sorrow.
  • Bird-watch watch: On the day the swifts did not mass (neither did Loving Dalston readers). But nature offered a bonus: a half-minute sighting of a rare green sandpiper, a solitary migrant possibly from as far away as the shores of the Caspian, circled the reservoir. A surprisingly large variety of other birds was also seen thanks to the genteel expertise and portable telescope of London Wildlife Trust’sMark Pearson (pictured), and heard, including the chiff chaff, reed warbler, reed bunting, great crested grebe (carrying chicks on its back), pochard, shoveler, tufted duck and various gulls. Pearson was also able to show his public live specimens of the common toad (Bufo bufo) and the common/smooth newt (Lissotriton vulgaris)
  • For descriptions, drawings and recordings of birds mentioned view the RSPB site; for animals the UK reptiles site.

David Altheer 200710

Backstory: Sunshine’s symbol

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