A few weeks ago I wrote that any swifts remaining following an earlier than usual departure for the bulk of them this year, would all have gone by 8th August.

Early on the morning of that day I stood on a clifftop on the south coast. Suddenly I heard the barely audible but unmistakable sound of screaming swifts and looking up, saw clouds of the birds swirling around, just visible at a great height.

As I watched, they slowly drifted out to sea in a huge meandering flock, their cries becoming fainter and fainter as they headed to France on the first leg of their epic journey to Africa.

The following day there was no sign of them and I felt quite privileged and at the same time a little sad to have witnessed their departure and know that they wouldn't be back until next May.

However, one of our familiar resident birds, the tawny owl (pictured) is going nowhere or at most will fly no more than a couple of miles from its home patch. Very soon,we will begin to hear them calling regularly at night as this year's young birds scout around for territories of their own.

In common with some species, including swifts, tawny owls did not have a very good breeding season this year because as a result of record rainfall, tawnies found conditions far too wet to woo!