The swift is a summer visitor to Britain from Africa; it is a superb aerial bird and has scythe-like wings and a forked tail.

Look up in the sky in summer, often very high and you may see screaming parties of them twisting and turning at high speed around rooftops and houses, often low, especially at dusk. They spend nearly all their life in the air and can fly up to heights’ of 20,000 feet. They only land to breed and a young swift can spend up to the first three to four years in the air before landing.

They sleep, feed and drink on the wing. Swifts have for many years used manmade structures for nesting, since moving away from caves and cliffs. Artificial nest boxes and swift bricks are now available to encourage them, and they leave no droppings beneath the nest.

Credit: Information and photo kindly supplied by Peter Dowse of Bollington, Cheshire.