Each spring we look forward to the arrival of our swallows. They bring an energy with them. They swoop into the barn as though they have not been away and then swoop out again, proceeding to fill the sky with their acrobatics and chattering talk. It is hard to imagine they have just travelled over 1,000 miles on their yearly migration path.
When I’m working in the forest garden, I can often find a nosey swallow sitting on a rail over my head and chattering. They are quite inquisitive.
On a number of occasions I’ve needed to hold a swallow in my hand (they can swoop into buildings and get stuck) – they are so light and tiny. These little strips of wind spend every winter in South Africa before returning faithfully home to our barns each year to have their young. This 6,000 mile journey is full of risks. As the Sahara desert expands it makes this journey tougher, and though each year I will our returning birds to have swelled in number they each year stay a constant. I’m thankful though, as numbers throughout the UK are reducing. I just hope the forest garden gives them the best environment to raise their young and become strong so as to make their journey. You never know, one year the numbers may increase.
There is a row of nests in our rafters created by these darting creatures. Once paired, swallows will remain together for life.
Come the end of summer the number over us swell as they with their young prepare to migrate. Then one morning we come out – and they are all gone.
We wait – will they make it back next year?