So, our swallows came back last month – but not that many of them. At the end of last year’s swallow breeding season we must have had well over a dozen swallows bombing around – when it came to clearing out the shed when they had departed there were three or four active nests, and each pair produces at least two broods. I know the attrition rate for migrating swallows is pretty steep, but every year that we’ve been here we’ve had more swallows nesting than we’ve had the year before. So it was rather sad to see just three of them swooping round the yard and in and out of the window of the shed these past couple of weeks. Could we really have lost so many swallows between September and April? Had they all met with some disaster further south?
At the same time, we’ve also had a good two weeks of freak north-easterly winds which have brought with them all manner of strange spring weather: sitting-out-at-the-pub temperatures followed by frost, hail followed by more hail, actual dryness followed by torrential rain … everything’s been completely upside down. Then yesterday, with the bank holiday-ish weekend (it’s never quite clear if you haven’t a proper job and live in Scotland what’s a bank holiday and what isn’t), normal service was resumed along with the traditionally damp Bank Holiday Monday and, this morning, the resumption of the south-westerly prevailing wind and the pattern of sunshine-and-showers that passes for a nice day in these parts.
And, perhaps carried in on those south-westerlies, a few more swallows have arrived to join our lonely crew. We’re hoping the rest have been similarly merely delayed: waiting for their left luggage or just making a leisurely journey of it, holed up somewhere a little warmer if such a place can be found.
It made me wonder – are we the only people whose swallows were missing, presumed gone? Are yours all back? Or have you, perhaps, got some extra swallows round your way, looking a bit confused and twittering away in a gentle Scottish accent and wondering where all the midgies were?
Send them this way if you have…