How great it is to see and hear the first Swallows of the season.. I’ve noticed them around the village for the last few days, but also now over the garden: That soft twittering is reassuring, suggestive of running water, soothing and vital. Their arrival confirmation of what we know is an unrelenting march towards longer, warmer days, though there may be setbacks along the way.
For a bird that has recently arrived from Africa, they still practice glides and meandering flight as if flying for fun, celebrating. They have a long association with humans and human endeavour, living out the summer months in barns and sheds, in fact their choice of man made locations is sometimes surprising. They are regular nesters in bird hides, taking this nature reserve thing very seriously, the tool shed is also a cornucopia of nesting opportunities. But plenty of time for all that , though in a good year they rear up to three broods, often necessary to bolster potential losses on what is a hazardous return journey south, in just five or six months time.
For now they are content to hunt for aerial insects, over land and water, from a few feet up to 500 feet or more. The existence of pastoral or agricultural activity is symbiotic for Swallows, as they hoover up flies and aphids, they make our sunny summer excursions into the countryside much more tolerable.