John, our esteemed Chairman, has the honour of playing host every year to nesting swifts in the roof of his home. This fine old house is close to Pit Common, so this little tale fits (just) with our intention of sticking to things about the Commons in this blog.
Today, a newly-fledged swift was found in the garden, perhaps 10 yards from the house. It appeared that the bird had left the nest, but failed to become properly airborne. Much scratching of heads was done about how to proceed. Getting the youngster back in its nest was ruled out on grounds of danger and impracticality. Leaving it high up on some surface in the hope its parents might visit it seemed unlikely to be successful. Meanwhile, it sat on the grass (something it is never going to do again in its life) and awaited developments, with, it appeared, some trepidation. Here's a picture of it, being a bit camera shy:
Eventually, we decided to try to launch it into the air from a height, so a ladder was placed against a shed and your intrepid reporter ascended, gently holding the young aeronaut. We were prepare for it to crash, and chose to toss it into the air over a patch of tall wild flowers, so it would at least have a soft landing. In the event, it took to the air wonderfully well, and began to fly away quickly, not to say swiftly. It certainly stayed airborne for at least 100 yards until it flew over the roof of another house. At this point several other swifts appeared, and we lost track of 'our' bird, but we hope it stayed aloft, as it must do continuously for the next couple of years, until it is old enough to breed. We can't be sure of success, but we feel we gave it its best chance.
This somewhat out of focus image is another picture of it on the ground. It doesn't do justice to the beautifully subtle markings on its head, but at least it's looking in the right direction.