Curious Lagosians have been reporting the sightings of the Blue Swift in Lagos which is a rarity. The Swift and its relatives form a group called Apodidae – this is a very ancient group of birds, as well as the fastest of all birds in level flight.
They are known to spend three months of the year in Britain, arriving in early May and leaving in early August. Following the summer months, they are known for spending their winters well south of the Sahara: they have been recovered in the Congo Basin, Malawi, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and South Africa but this is the first time sightings have been reported in Nigeria. Until recently, their routes were unknown until the last few months where sighting have been reported, thereby leading to speculations that these birds have migrated to Nigeria.
Of the three species of swift breeding in Europe, the one with the most southerly breeding range (the pallid swift) has the most northerly winter quarters, while the one which breeds the furthest north in Europe moves the furthest south in Africa. David Lack (the ornithologist) who did the most work on Swift’s recorded swifts that travelled over 6000 miles to reach South Africa.
One reason it’s hard to know much about their whereabouts and what they are doing during winter is that they look like other swift species, especially the African black swift.
The birds are not dangerous and these quintessential summer visitors, with their mostly aerial lifestyles, are a delight to watch.
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