As we all know, the Earth is part of a clock. It keeps its own time no matter what tinkering we humans see fit to try and impose on it.
For me, the moment Late Spring become officially Summer is the moment the residents of the three Swift boxes on our chimney wheel back into the skies overhead in May. I start watching in the third week of April for the House Martins to return to the village first. At that point we put a big, white net up over the opening to the car port to discourage the Barn Swallows, who turn up next, as they eye it up each year as a des-res plus ultra. It’s the right shape for them but not really high enough to build their preferred nests. The mess they created each year as they figured this out resulted in our dissuasion tactics and is now part of our early Summer ritual.
Right after the early May Bank Holiday I become truly expectant. I missed their arrival this year as we were on holiday but the Swifts were back in good numbers when we returned on the 10th.
I can stand and watch them as they whirl around over the garden for hours in the Summer. It’s a good excuse to stop hoeing and use the hoe as a support as I stretch my back and look up into the skies. I find the screaming noise they make as the chase each other round and round the house utterly thrilling. It is also a thrill for me to know that these Swifts are OUR Swifts. The same Swifts live HERE, on our chimney, every summer, and come back to this exact house each year. Thrill number three is the fact that even at a time when Swift numbers are declining across the nation, the numbers who spend the summer months feeding and breeding over our house are increasing. There are usually about 7- 8 birds that start the season but there were 13 to start with this year. This makes me deliriously happy.
I have included a link to more information about Swifts below. When we first put the Swift boxes on the chimney about 10 years ago, specialist nesting boxes were quite a difficult thing to source. Now there are loads of companies making them. In an age when it seems there is so little we can do as individuals to help nature, this is one thing we CAN do if we have the right sort of aspect on the house we live in.
A couple more photos, not mine, alas.
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