Wednesday June 24
The above phrase was lurking beneath my conscious mind as I sat on Beccles station. I was on my way to a conservation get-together at the time. I later Googled it and discovered, to my chagrin, that it’s the title of a song and an album from Geri Halliwell. How come I’d heard of it, then?
But idle snobbery go hang. The phrase came into my head because of the screaming I heard above it as I waited for the train to Darsham. Swift. Of course swift. Screaming because they wanted to go faster.
At this time of year the non-breeding swifts will race each other through the sky and make low-level massed hooligan runs along narrow streets, apparently for the sheer hell of it. As they race they scream, and they can be heard in towns and cities across the country.
For the brief few weeks of their stay – scarcely three months – the sound of swiftian screaming is a sharp reminder to people in cities that there’s a wild world fighting its corner not only outside the city limits but in it, all round it and even above it.
It’s called, aptly enough, a screaming party, and it is a great call to us all stay wild. In the light evenings of the new summer, in the clear skies a succession of violently flung crescent-shapes hurtles across the sky while the sound of screaming pours down on the heads of poor earth-bound humans below. And as the swifts scream, they go faster.