Monday, 14 April 2014

One Swallow does not a Summer make ...

Posted by Rosie

.... but it means it's definitely on it's way and I saw the first 3 swallows of 2014 on Saturday at the neighbouring village of Pontécoulant.

I love swallows - I love their colour, I love their their shape and I love the way they swoop through the skies searching for insects and dip low over ponds to scoop up water. I also completely admire the fact that a bird that weights no more than 25g can fly 6000 miles from South Africa to Northern Europe, twice a year for as long as they live.  They fly 200 miles a day at an average speed 20 miles per hour taking a month to complete their journey.  It truly is a feat of nature that we can go nowhere near to matching.

Is it any wonder any bird survives this journey?  Whilst a lot do others do not make it.  Each year countless birds die from starvation, exhaustion and in storms.  4 years ago this swallow arrived here at Eco-Gites of Lenault and I found it lying on the front drive, exhausted, panting and barely alive.  

It would had flown up from South Africa, diverted along the west coast to avoid The Sahara Desert and flown on into Morocco before crossing the Pyrenees and eventually ending up here.  Swallows always return to the area near to where they were hatched and breeding birds return to use the same nests year after year.  How they navigate back to the same place is still not fully understood.

I drip fed it a little water but sadly it died a few minutes later in my hand, a brave little soul that had pushed itself to the absolute limit.  It did however give the boys and us the chance to have a really good look at this marvel of nature before we buried it near to where it fell.

For the last 2 years we have had very few swallows here - 2 years ago we had none and last year we had a few around, but none breeding.  It was so sad not to see the eager beaks of youngsters stretching out from the nests as the parents returned to feed them or see the aerial acrobatics of the adults as we looked out of the window. 


It did however mean we could go in the feed shed or pig pens without the risk of having a swallow crashing into us and did not find swallows sitting on our clothes drier!  However I can put up with that if it means we can have our breeding swallows back. Hopefully 2104 will see swallows once again breeding at Eco-Gites of Lenault ... please!

For me, having swallows around is both magical and ordinary.  It's magical what they go through to get here yet we almost take them for granted all Summer until one day in Autumn they are gone again.  And in between they swoop a thousand times above our heads and weave a thousand stories.


20 comments :

  1. It never ceases to amaze me that such little things can travel such massive distances! #MagicMoments

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  2. Beautiful post. Nature really is an incredible thing - it's amazing what swallows do. They are truly fascinating.

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  3. Such a journey they take and great to see them along the way, not ideal when they are tucked up in your feed sheds though!

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    1. Luckily the feed shed has a hole in the door but I end up with poop on the food tubs!

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  4. Amazing creature. Hopefully you will have them again and please share photos =) #whatsthestory

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    1. I have a video from a few years ago - I'll post that up sometime too.

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  5. We always love seeing the Swifts & Swallows returning to my family home in Cornwall...how such a small creature can travel so far always amazes me!

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    1. We have never seen swifts or house martins at the gite although there are plenty around. Just really hoping we have breeding swallows again this year.

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  6. how amazing those beautiful birds are!! i am keeping my fingers and toes crossed for a return of some breeding swallows honey x

    thanks for linking up with #MagicMoments x

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    1. Thank you - everything crossed here too :)

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  7. It is amazing what these beautiful little birds can do x #WhatstheStory

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  8. Aww poor little thing. It is truly amazing how far they migrate and the limits they push themselves too. #MagicMoments x

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    1. To arrive safely and then lose their tender hold on life was so sad.

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  9. What a beautiful post Rosie. Swallows really are incredible creatures aren't they, amazing how far they travel. Just lovely, thank you so much for sharing #whatsthestory

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  10. The poor mite. We have got a little birds nest in the air vent in our bathroom! We live in inner city Brum so as you can imagine Itwas a shock. We aren't allowed to move them so we hear them tweeting away in the shower! Its bizarre xxx

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