Friday, 1 May 2009
The swifts have returned!
I was pegging out the washing this morning (it's the only domestic chore I like doing) and checking on the vegetable seedlings in the plastic-house, enjoying the feeling of the sun on my back, birds singing away when I suddenly heard a familiar (and much-missed) sound - 'squee squee' - that can mean only one thing: the swifts have returned. Gazing up into the achingly blue sky I spotted them, two dark, thin crescent shapes, weaving around each other. As I watched, another joined them, then another until there were six in all. I like to think they must have arrived overnight, finally completing the 5,500 mile journey from South Africa that they endure every year, and they're gathering together to have a quick gossip before getting on with the important business of finding a mate and somewhere to nest. The sadness is that they're only here for 12 weeks to raise their young, and then they're off again and the skies are just that much quieter.
Every year I watch out for the return of the swifts - summer can't begin without them. Last year they arrived on 3 May so they're 2 days earlier this year. They always give the impression of having so much fun - they're the fastest flying birds on the planet and I just adore that 'whoosh' you get when they swoop low overhead, squealing as they go.
The allotment site is surrounded by 1930s houses and seems to be quite popular as nesting sites for the swifts. Last year I can remember standing up and having to duck as a gang of swifts did a very low (and very quick) flypast just over me!