“Swallows are small birds with dark glossy blue backs, red throats, pale under parts and long distinctive tail streamers. They are extremely agile in flight and spend most of their time on the wing. They are widespread breeding birds in the Northern Hemisphere, migrating south in winter. Recent declines due to loss of habitat quality in both their breeding and wintering grounds mean they are an Amber List species.” RSPB
We have two swallows nests happily nesting in the archway between our house and the neighbours. It is a moment of pure joy to see them arrive in the spring and very sad to see them go when it gets cold.
Swallows are fierce protectors of their nests and I have seen them on numerous occasions swooping down at an unsuspecting cat in an agressive fashion (including my own cat). Every morning I can see them through the bathroom window as the perch on the telephone wire preening themselves in readiness for the day’s hunt of flying insects.
Here is a marvellous peom about swallows from just over the boder.
The swallow, bonny birdie, comes sharp twittering o’er the sea,
And gladly is her carol heard for the sunny days to be;
She shares not with us wintry glooms, but yet, no faithless thing,
She hunts the summer o’er the earth with wearied little wing.
The lambs like snow all nibbling go upon the ferny hills;
Light winds are in the leafy woods, and birds, and bubbling rills;
Then welcome, little swallow, by our morning lattice heard,
Because thou com’st when Nature bids bright days be thy reward!
Thine be sweet mornings with the bee that’s out for honey-dew;
And glowing be the noontide for the grass-hopper and you;
And mellow shine, o’er day’s decline, the sun to light thee home:
What can molest thy airy nest? sleep till the day-spring come!
The river blue that rushes through the valley hears thee sing,
And murmurs much beneath the touch of thy light-dipping wing.
The thunder-cloud, over us bowed, in deeper gloom is seen,
When quick reliev’d it glances to thy bosom’s silvery sheen.
The silent Power, that brought thee back with leading-strings of love
To haunts where first the summer sun fell on thee from above,
Shall bind thee more to come aye to the music of our leaves,
For here thy young, where thou hast sprung, shall glad thee in our eaves.
Thomas Aird 1802 – 1876