18 May 2012

Swallows

The swallows have finally returned to our terrace.  I have seen them in the area including much further north of here, but they had not return to us yet.  We have been reading a book from the library The Journey of a Swallow in anticipation of their return.

Their migration and that of so many birds is truly amazing, it would be interesting to know exactly where the birds that come to our terrace go to over winter.  The journey takes many months and crosses some very inhospitable terrain on the way, such as the sahara desert.  It is also intriging that they take three to four months to fly south to their overwintering grounds where they only remain for a few months.  The journey north takes far less time a matter of weeks racing back to their breeding to build their nest in their favoured spot.

I love to sit and watch them flying around in the early evening catching insects on the wing and returning to the nest to feed their young.  They are also a good way of forecasting the weather, when they fly low it because the insects are low it is likely to rain or be cold.  There is a saying I believe it goes 'Low flies the swallow, rain to follow'.  So why?  The drop in air density and the increase in moisture that accompanies cold and wet weather pushes the insects down as they find it harder to fly and the swallows follows its source of food.

I always feel it is the finally the start of spring when they arrive to make their nests, maybe it will warm up now.  Do you have swallows near you, have they returned to build their nests?

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