Two local charities, Climate Action Ilkley and the Wharfedale Naturalists Society, are combining forces in a project to help Ilkley’s swifts.
They are looking for volunteers to get involved with a range of initiatives to raise awareness of the threats faced by these birds, to conserve existing nesting sites and to create new ones across the town.
If you wander along the Grove in July, you’ll almost certainly hear the cree, cree, cree screech of the Ilkley swifts, as they circle and swoop over the rooftops. Their arrival in May heralds the coming of Spring and is a reminder that all is well, as observed by Yorkshire poet Ted Hughes in this extract from his poem “Swifts”
“They’ve made it again,
Which means the globe’s still working, the Creation’s
Still waking refreshed, our summer’s
Still all to come –“
(From Season Songs, Faber, 1976).
Swifts (Apus Apus) pair for life and meet up at the same nest site in the UK each spring – usually in gaps under roof tiles and in the eaves of buildings. The Ilkley swifts are actually African birds. They spend just three months of the year in Ilkley. But it is here that they nest, give birth to, and rear, their young before heading back home to sub-Saharan Africa.