Alyth Bird Blog #1
Updated: May 7
Birds you can spot in Alyth during lockdown – first of a regular series
With Spring in full swing, h2 Natural Health of Alyth shares tips on what you can see in or over your garden or whilst out locally enjoying permitted exercise. Get the kids involved to ‘tick-off’ the birds they can spot and identify! You don’t need binoculars but a pair will increase enjoyment. We will post a few times every week details of three birds that can be seen, heard and enjoyed here in Alyth at this time of year.
It's been shown that birdwatching or engaging with nature generally has many positive benefits for mental health (that's why it is often on the list of 'social prescriptions' suggested by enlightened GPs and social care professionals).
So let’s kick-off with our first three birds – these are all birds more frequently seen wheeling overhead. The first is the …
The swallow is a summer visitor from sub-Saharan Africa – I noticed my first bird over Alyth on 19th April this year and numbers will continue to build over the next couple of weeks. Swallows are small birds with dark, glossy-blue backs, red throats, pale underparts and long tail streamers. They are extremely agile in flight and spend most of their time on the wing. Look for them as they hawk insects high in the air or swooping low over the burn in the town centre. Evening time they gather to ‘chatter’ on phone wires, often in the company of …
The house martin is another summer visitor from Africa, with glossy blue-black upper parts and pure white underparts. It has a distinctive white rump with a forked tail, but lacks the long streamers of the swallow. I noticed the first returning bird over Alyth on 11th April and there are now a number to be seen overhead. These are the birds that make their mud nests up in the apex of our roof eaves!
Swift is the final master of the air. At first glance it may appear very similar to the swallow and house martin and it is also a superb flier - it evens sleeps on the wing! It is plain sooty brown, but in flight against the sky it appears black. It has long, scythe-like wings and a short, forked tail. Their legs are so short that they cannot perch or land on the ground – if you find a healthy grounded bird you will need to help it back into the air by gently tossing it up from your hands. It is a summer visitor, the last to arrive from Africa and this year I saw my first swift over Alyth 4th May. When numbers have increased over the next couple of weeks look for them flying low over, and between, buildings in the town centre in noisy ‘screaming parties’ – fantastic!
FACTOID: Late July, young common swifts leave the UK and migrate to western and central Africa. They return the following May, spending the intervening 10 months almost continuously in the air. They feed in the air, sleep in the air, mate in the air, and get nest material in the air.
We hope that you have enjoyed our first Alyth Bird Blog – please feel free to comment or ask any questions. Next time we will look at three common garden birds.