The Swift Walk

12 Stops
Duration: 01:30:00

Dolgellau has many old buildings and these have gone through several changes. Since buildings existed there have been creatures living in towns like Dolgellau. Often it is considered a privilege when certain species choose our home to visit. Just walking around Dolgellau you will see sparrows. They used to be common in towns and as such were hardly worth noting. Sparrows now are finding it more difficult to nest in modern or renovated and tidied up places but are still here in Dolgellau. At night you may hear a tawny owl; is this owl nesting in the church or Ty Siamas in Eldon Square? If you look higher you will see other birds who are summer visitors. They all nest in Dolgellau too, swallows, martins and swifts.

Most people are familiar with swallows; blue black with paler undersides and long forked tails, they generally nest inside buildings. They like barns and garages; spaces like the caves they would once have used.

House martins nest outside under eaves. They make a cup like nest with beakfuls of mud attached to the wall. They have a short, forked tail, a pure white underside and a white rump.

You will not see the nests of the swifts. These birds are bigger than the others with long, blade-like wings and appear all black apart from a paler patch on the throat. Swifts originally nested in crevices on high cliffs and holes in trees and now find the smallest of gaps to enter roof spaces hidden from view.

You will not see swifts sitting on wires or tree branches. Swifts eat, sleep and mate on the wing and only land to nest. From late April to August they are best seen on warm evenings calling to each other in high pitched screams as they wheel high above the town.

Swifts arrive in Dolgellau towards the end of April and do not stay long but while they are here you cannot miss their noisy squadrons performing acrobatics above the town.

Start your walk on a fine evening in May, June or July. Stand at the town end of Bont Fawr (Big Bridge) with your back to the River Wnion, the main car park entrance is to your right. To your left is the old County Hall, this was a court until 2017.

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