Tuesday, 2 August 2011

The Scream....

The Scream....

Not this one....


The scream that I am talking about is the one that tells me summer is here. Not just summer per se, but a particular kind of summer feeling. I have revelled in it on several occasions over the past few weeks.

Arcing high over delapidated rooftops and swooping dangerously low over back yards Swifts are the stars of West Kirby's avifauna from May to August. The screaming calls that accompany this air show are the sounds I listen out for from late April as the signal that the easy season is starting. It can be startlingly loud, but it's a sound I never tire of.

On several evenings after the working day is done I have endeavoured to record their summer as it makes mine. Truth be told I haven't done them justice, I don't really have the kit to do it properly, the lens I use most often just isn't fast enough to catch them in flight.

That hasn't stopped me trying or enjoying the effort. That is because the atmosphere created by warm, sunny sub-urban evenings is one I love.

The sun on a slow descent to the western horizon throws a lemon glow on the terracotta tiles of rooves opposite our yard, a makeshift Swift studio for the time being.



The atmosphere is amazing. A Blackbird is singing from a distant TV aeriel. Is there a sound more evocative of a sub-urban summer eve? Not for me....

It is interrupted by the gaudy ding-a-ling of an ice cream van. It is ruining the tune of a well known nursery rhyme, one note is just off, send the whole tune into a tailspin.

Kids are squeezing the last drops of playtime from the day. A BMX whizzes along the road, a football rebounds off a garage door, metal resonates the sound. Shadows lengthen.

The Swifts nest here in good numbers. Believe me there are plenty of gaps in the eaves, slipped roof tiles and holes in soffits to accomodate nests. Our house has all of these but sadly no birds have moved in. I hear a scream, the signal to head outdoors with camera and take position in the yard
High above I spot one...

 Then another, they start to chase eachother. Twisting into infinity and out of sight.

More come in, lower this time. They swoop in, wingbeats and screams ripping the air, I feel like there should be a jetwash from the wings to accompany the roar as they pass, but of course there is none.


Plenty to eat for them, some zoom over with crops full of unlucky bugs. Food is on the air too. BBQs are smouldering in a number of gardens. They start with the chemically infused whiff of charcoal mixed with firelighters, this matures into full on burning coals that mellows into well done burgers and finishes as burnt bangers. I can smell all this with my sunburned nose and with my mind's eye see all the untouched bowls of salad. Magic.

The Swifts continue to streak overhead, for me the vital ingredient in this summer medley.


As I clumsily jab at the keyboard this evening the skies above West Kirby are silent. The young have fledged and their journey south beckons. By next week I reckon they'll all be gone, but what a show they have put on over this delicious summer.

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