They’re back! They’re here!
|From my washing line I watched these two on their line as they decide on their summer here together!|
Today was the first “official” day of the Easter holidays. A chance to sleep in (perhaps) and enjoy a lazy morning that does not include a frantic lunch-box-packing or hunt for a missing school shoe, or forgotten homework, all done against the race of the clock. I dozed off happily for what felt like two minutes before I heard an excited little voice barge into my sleep saying “The swallows are back! Millions of them!”
Each year the return of the swallows lifts my spirits enormously. The feat alone that these long distance migrants undertake leave me with nothing short of admiration for them. I think of the thunderstorms they have survived as they cross the equator, squalls at sea, inky nights and such a great, great distance to be crossed with a million wing-beats.
|Swallows “eat on the wing” – simply by snatching insects out of the air as they fly.|
An experienced swallow can fly from South Africa to Ireland in about 5 and a half weeks at a speed of about 300km per day! Can you imagine the enormity of the undertaking? If we choose to fly to South Africa it is interesting to note that we need a machine (boeing 747) that has a gross take-off weight of 900,000 pounds and burns a gallon of fuel (4 LITRES) EVERY SECOND! Yet, these tiny little birds – mere capfuls of blood wrapped in warm feathers – can navigate a journey of approximately 9000 km from South Africa to West Cork – it is astounding!
And so, on days like today – here in West Cork, where the air was hazy and humid, and everything felt lazy and relaxed in the warmth of the sun – it is assuring to know that summer has officially arrived with the flurry of swallows. They darted and swooped across our fields and buildings today, choosing nesting sites, mates, meals, materials. The energy and drive that they bring is uplifting and holds the promise of a fulfilling, productive and wonderful summer just about to unfurl.