Feeding on the wing

Feeding on the wing

The swift’s eyes have located the prey (if you follow their glance on the image below) – a humble fly that’s no match for the speed and agility of these skyborne acrobats.  These birds do everything on the wing; feeding, drinking, sleeping and even mating, to me they appear more like fish in water than birds, their scale like feather markings adding to the effect.

The old town of Ragusa Ibla sits up high on a rocky crest, an ideal place for these busy birds, the warm air rising from the surrounding fields bringing a ready supply of airborne insects.  These swifts are busy raising their young, the nests of which festoon the eaves of old terracotta roofs, providing ideal nesting sites. Their frenetic activity and shrieking calls bring the peaceful streets alive at quieter times of the day when residents are hiding from the heat. Swifts were also known as the Devil’s Bird in mediaeval times, the shrieking calls and the seemingly never ending flight could appear other-worldly and probably incomprehensible to mediaeval folk.

Click the image below for a larger view:

Ragusa, Italy is where this Swift was captured

Swift in Ragusa

Photography – forget using your camera’s eyepiece and/or its auto-focusing engine to capture images here, all just too slow. Focus peaking wins the day – work out a position where the birds are in focus when they fly through and just set your camera to maximum burst rate.  Use your camera like a gun, tracking the flight.


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Nigel has been publishing magazines since 1995 (some 20+ years now). Passionate about our countryside and heritage, the magazines reflect this interest. Nigel's the Editor of the DEVONSHIRE magazine which he established in 2009 and founder of the innovative HUBCAST event promotion platform which launched in 2011