Now that his noisy neighbours have left for another year, Russell Jones looks back at the joy of swifts

I don’t know what the sound of the summer is for you, Lawns being cut, neighbour’s barbeques, kid’s in paddling pools, the thwack of leather on willow; or the call for “new balls please” at Wimbledon?

For me, it is the noise of the annual migrants who come to my neighbourhood for just 3 short months and bomb up and down my road, screeching loudly as they go past at high speed.

So nothing to worry about on the climate front then?

Russell Jones Russell Jones Content and communications manager

Speed merchants

I’m talking about the colony of swifts that descend on my part of Maidenhead every summer, and I absolutely love it.

These amazing birds have travelled from south of the Sahara through France and Spain and almost never land.  They sleep on the wing with the ability for half their brain to snooze, whilst the other keeps them flying.  They also catch raindrops to drink so they never have to stop!

For this year though, they have now left and the skies above Maidenhead are sadly silent once more.

The state of the climate

I’ve written before about the swifts as I always felt you could almost set your watch by their arrival and departure, with them suddenly appearing around the 14th of May and packing their bags to leave on the 14th of August.

I originally wrote about them here over two years ago as I wondered whether their early arrival in 2017 was a result of the changes in the global climate.

Last year they were almost bang on schedule and, although they’ve gone a week earlier this year, their timing was also pretty spot on.

So nothing to worry about on the climate front then?

Looming catastrophe

Well not if you pay even the slightest attention to the news. 

We are seeing more examples of the catastrophic effects of extreme weather around the globe, whether that is marine heat waves killing coral, typhoons causing death and mayhem, or forest fires in the Arctic Circle.

Thankfully, we are also seeing increased awareness amongst people that something must be done to mitigate our damage to the planet and it needs to be done soon.

Increasing hope

Thankfully, we are also seeing increased awareness amongst people that something must be done to mitigate our damage to the planet and it needs to be done soon.

We have seen a real increase in the awareness of the damage plastics have on our oceans and on the food chain and tomorrow’s generations are now saying “enough is enough” and demanding change from our global leaders.

We’ve also seen the predicable reaction from the ‘establishment’ who are quick to criticise people such as Greta Thunberg, but slow to accept that change is coming and they better get used to it.

TV presenter George Clarke has written passionately about Ms Thunberg, calling out those who are ‘shooting the messenger’ rather than listening to the message.

So, what will you do?

So my noisy neighbours have gone for another year and I’d love to make sure they are able to come again for generations to come, so personally, I’m questioning every car journey or flight I take, I’m recycling as much as I can, and I’m cutting down my meat consumption, especially beef and lamb as it’s production is so carbon intensive.

Without wanting to scare anyone too much, we really don’t have long to change things, with next year being pivotal in stopping the climate crisis.

So it really is time to ask yourself if you are on the right side of history and, if, like me you are concerned about humanities impact on our planet and want to do all you can to stop and reverse the damaging effect of climate change, then this piece in the Guardian is worth a quick read, to show what we can all do to make a difference.

In the meantime, I’ll sit back in my garden and enjoy the rest of the quiet summer, looking for other ways I can help make a difference.

Russell Jones is content and communications manager for Mitsubishi Electric Living Environment Systems in the UK