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Monday, 9 May 2016

Sound of spring

Swifts first heard over Exeter on Thursday 5 May evening last week.

My relative pitch, or instrument tuning, or quite possibly both, may well be off, but the calls seem to be in the region of G# and E, though the note also seems to modulate microtonally mid-call.  Groups congregate in 'screaming parties' as they zoom around their nesting areas. The female calls are at higher pitch.

Click here for a link to the British Library sound archive recording of swifts, and here for a more in depth analysis of the calls.  

There's that well-quoted poem by Ted Hughes. Which I'm not going to quote. But here is a link to the lovely guitar piece 'Birds Flew Over the Spire' from Gary Ryan's 'City Scenes'. It's meant to be about swallows, but for a city scene, I'm thinking swifts, circling high above St Michael's church on St David's Hill (it's in E major, so both E and G# feature ...)
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J2O6FVpVk4I

Some more swift info:
Swift conservation www.swift-conservation.org/
RSPB www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/s/swift/ 
Wikipedia https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_swift

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