As I was finishing off with Year 10 this afternoon, I got a text from Moxey (yep, that's right, he's learnt how to text and he's actually quite good at it!). Moxey had arrived at the sewage farm and, despite the wind, he was catching, so I should get there as soon as I could.
I had a short meeting after school, so I raced out as soon as the meeting was over and made my way through the rush hour traffic to the sewage farm. When I arrived, Moxey had a bunch of Swifts and hirundines waiting for me to ring as he continued flicking. Most people would be made up with the generosity of a man who allows you to ring all the Swifts that he has caught as he continues to catch more. Well, this has been a shrewd move by Moxey.
As the photo shows, Swifts have very sharp claws, two facing two, as you would expect given that the only times they land, they are hanging onto buildings or cliffs. In the photo, you can see the claws nicely digging in behind the nail and there was a certain amount of my blood shed removing the claws.....and that wasn't even a vicious one! So my fingers are currently wearing the holes caused by catching decent numbers of Swifts, so Moxey's 'generosity' doesn't seem so selfless now does it?
Swifts and House Martins are also covered in hippoboscid parasites. These insects feed on the blood of the birds and are transmitted between individuals in the nest. It is pretty common for these parasites to find their way onto our bodies too, although they are harmless to humans. For example, taking a shower last night, I noticed one crawling up the wall. I'm just waiting for that moment when I'm in the middle of a lesson....'...so class, can you calculate the Lincoln's Index for this set of results please' ..... 'Sir?'......'Put your hand down Adam and get your calculator out'.....'But Sir?'.......'What?'.......'What's that crawling up your face?'..........
House Martin - 17
Swallow - 6
Swift - 28 (4)
TOTAL: 51 (4)
We are still a long way off last years total for Swift, however the first part of this week could be productive if the wind dies down and no doubt I will be hoofing it to the sewage farm after work a few more times!