I'd never have thought I would ever actually hold a swift but in the last five years I've held these two, which I took to the Wildlife Hospital.
So here's what to do if you find one - either young with a white face like these, even younger as in the photo below, or an adult.
The basic is:
Swifts can't take off from the ground because their wings are too long and their legs too short to give them the necessary thrust. So if you find one that looks as if it's strong enough to fly, hold it out at head height on open palms, give it time to think and if it can, it will. DO NOT throw it into the air.
If it can't or is too small, follow the advice in this leaflet (it's written for vets but works for us) and take it to our local Wiltshire Wildlife Hospital at Newton Tony - SP4 0HW. They take in anything up to 20 swifts a year, some as tiny as this one, and nurture them till they're big and strong enough to join the migration back to Africa.
Call 07850 778752 first for advice, but they're open 24 hours for patients. If you can't take it yourself or find a friend who can, don't hesitate to call me, Elizabeth, on 07831 253616 - I know the way!
In April, come he will.
In May, he sings all day.
In June, he changes his tune.
In July, he prepares to fly.
In August, go he must.
That's the cuckoo, of course.
Abby Eaton took this stunning photo of one at Langford Lakes Nature Reserve in May, but one is still singing his original tune on Martin Down.
So it's still not too late to get your cuckoo fix.
At the talk about wildlife crime in February, one listener asked if anything was being done about dog thefts. At that stage, PC Richard Salter could only say that there had been few if any reports of actual thefts. But the Rural Crime team have now responded to widespread concern by setting up a DogWatch scheme, described here. You can join this by first signing up to the Police Community Messaging Service here.
You'll then hear about other developments in the fight against rural crime in general and wildlife crime in particular - there's a useful-sounding development also in efforts to stop fish poaching, which should please anglers.
Community Support Officers in Wiltshire, such as Neil Tunbull who was the other speaker at the February meeting, are the first in the country to be given the same power as Police Officers to request a rod licence from people who are fishing.
Chief Constable Kier Pritchard says, 'Rather than just accompanying the water bailiffs on their patrols, this change in power will now allow our PCSOs to actively work alongside them to tackle illegal fishing activity.'
Again, the full story is here.
Watching birds on our bird feeders - like these pretty siskin on Andrew and Debbie Carter's - is one of the little delights that distract us from other less delightful goings on in the world
Young birds are at their sweetest when fully fledged, as in Abby's lovely photos - though feeding them at any age is a problem for parents or foster-parents, as in the case of the swift chick at the Wiltshire Wildlife Centre - Marilyn calls them 'little dinosaurs'!
Birds' nests are often nothing short of miracles of complexity combining aesthetics with practicalities such as insulation and water-proofing - Dick Budden's blackbirds, however, sadly ignored the mantra, 'location, location, location' when building in a woodstore during a freeze.
Izzy Fry's blog has photos of some exquisite nests.
Young birds can indeed be really sweet - but alas, because they're turfed out of the nest before they can fly, they're horribly vulnerable to predators. Sometimes these are larger birds such as magpies but too often they're victims of our furry feline friends. Cats.
But at last, research has been published which has identified things owners of predatory cats (not all are) can do to minimise this distressing habit. Full details on MoreNews.
PS There is of course the Green Woodpecker, too. Round here it mostly seems to be the Pied/Greater spotted that people see, but there's a recording from near Bath so you might be lucky.
Lepidopterists can be found in the most unlikely places ... Dick Budden's feed from the FT included a lovely piece by Jonathan Guthrie, who edits the Lex column which reports on stockmarkets.
His father took to butterflies as a distraction from family troubles and to me most sadly, he was written off by his school as 'not university material'. But his enthusiasm got him there under his own steam and he became a Professor of Zoology. So it ended happily.
You may be able to access the piece here, but otherwise Jonathan suggests eg growing nettles in a container and snipping the flowers off before they can seed, to attract peacocks, small tortoiseshells, painted ladies and red admirals to lay their eggs. But also borage, lavender, verbena and buddleia are of course butterfly favourites.
And, talking of painted ladies, on Sunday 23 May BBC Channel 4 had a lovely item on their migration, which you can get on iPlayer The Great Butterfly Adventure: Africa to Britain with the Painted Lady.
I'm off now to find some nettle seedlings, bound to be some out there ...
Jays and magpies I know, treepies and nutcrackers are new to me but crows, ravens, rooks, jackdaws and choughs are all black. How to tell them apart? Andrew Graham tells us there's one of them we can't mistake and why there are so many around in Tisbury at the moment.. Go to MoreNews for the full story.
The thing about butterfly hunting is that you don't need to be up early to see them at their best - indeed, not much before 11am and it needs to be warm, sunny and not windy. Perfect for a picnic. How about heading for Chiselbury ring (my favourite, till I'm on Winkelbury or Clearbury ...) off the Shaftesbury Way above Fovant, and scrambling down the chalk slope next to the Badges?
Maybe you'll have the same luck there as Abby Eaton, who sent me this dazzling gallery of colour, including the allotment-holders' favourites (hover for the caption, click to enlarge):
And if you'd like to hone your lepidopterist skills, there's our field trip on Saturday, 26 June to Garston Wood - go to Field Trips for details.
Apparently, that butterflies are scented has been known since E B Ford's post-WWII New Naturalist publication, but isn't it lovely?
Here's a gallery of butterfly scents (click or hover to see the caption)...
Patrick Barkham in The Guardian newspaper's Butterfly watch, says the purpose of the scent is the same as ours, to attract the opposite sex. But in this case, it's the male butterflies that smell delicious rather than the females.
E B Ford's successor Martin Warren includes this discovery in his new book Butterflies, 'a compendium of the latest scientific understanding of the planet's 19,000 species.'
Beetles seem to be all the rage, all of a sudden.
The April issue of the RHS's The Garden (pp 28-29) had a lovely spread on predatory beetles and the Wild about Gardens bulletin highlights the Wildlife Trusts wonderful feature on everything from the 7-spot ladybird to the death-watch!
Closer to home, Abby Eaton went to the open garden event at Fonthill House earlier this month and saw some lovely Violet Oil Beetles. She said, 'I saw eight but there were probably more.' (Great antennae!)
There's a survey of oil beetles going on at the moment - full details here on the BugLife website - and the PDF has some nice digestible info and contacts.
Abby added, 'Fascinating life cycle for the uninitiated. I logged the sighting on iRecord.'
And the RHS's latest Wild About Gardens also has a brilliant video on making a Beetle Bucket - I'm sure I can find a spot for this somewhere ...
And although of course spiders aren't beetles let alone even insects, here's an amazing photo Peter Shallcross has sent in of a harvestman. He says, 'I don't really know why the eyes would be better in any place other than the head but because the brain of a harvestman is so miniscule maybe the choice of where to wear one's eyes is of lesser importance to it?' I think I'd like mine in the back of my head ...
The pages now display photos of fungi taken by members. This one by Andrew Carter - Trametes versicolour.
Please do not eat any of them.
If it's not me, Elizabeth Forbes, website editor (keen but ignorant), I'll say so.