Each summer Swallows arrive and nest in the barn near my garden. Once the young have fledged, the wire that runs over my garden becomes their favourite place to rest. All we can hear through the open windows is their chitchat and clicks and whistles.
Swallows use the same nesting sites year after year and first year breeders (if they survive) will use a site within half an mile of where they were born, so perhaps the Swallows I filmed being fed by their parents over the garden last year are now some of the parents this year.
The Swallows arrive late Spring zipping up and down the meadow after insects, chasing each other around the trees and in and out of the barns.
The chicks fledged a couple of weeks ago and slowly began following their parents and each other round and round in the sky, resting less and less as they got stronger and more confident.
By September they will all be getting ready to leave for their 6,000 mile journey to South Africa. The journey will take them 6 weeks, travelling around 180 miles per day, and resting at night. They fly through Western France and Eastern Spain to Morocco. Then across the Sahara Desert and the Congo rainforest. If they survive the journey they will finally reach South Africa where they will spend the winter before the return journey to the UK starting in February.
I have been reading about Horatio Clare who followed the Swallow’s route by plane, bus, taxi, hire car, boat, canoe and on foot.
I’m going to South Africa soon and I’ll be thinking about the Swallows on my 11 hour plane journey.