It's that time of year again i'm afraid... the nights are drawing in (dark at 9 o'clock last night!) and the Swallows are saying their farewells. This isn't a message of doom and gloom though, it's a celebration of what's been a wonderful summer shared with with my Hirundine friends.
Two years ago, we (by this I mean Dave the site manager and Bill one of our local volunteers) made way for our feathered friends by creating a Swallow Hatch in our old office building. The hatch is perfectly situated as it is in the eaves of our storage area where there is very little disturbance. So, as well as creating a small hatch which we can open up in summer we also have sack-netting to partition off half of the roof (we still use the other half from time to time) and have added ledges for the Swallows to perch on. The hatch was an instant success and there are clearly signs of Swallows inhabiting the loft last year and they were definitly here this year. All that's left now is to clean the protective flooring we've put down so that it's spick-and-span for next years arrivals.
Our first arrivals came on April 4th and throughout the summer we, at the volunteers accomodation, have been serenaded by the returning Swallows and two broods of young. Jenny, one of our residential volunteers, affectionately named some of them after their mid-moult appearance... We had "one tail", "two tail" and "no tail" all pop out and say hello to us from atop the telephone wires in the summer evening sunshine. Their call is like nothing else, they seem to chatter away endlessly with tones that to me sound like dial-up internet. I know that's not very poetic, but I can't describe it any other way!
I was saddened when, on Saturday night, Ken pointed out that they'd gone - it sounds silly that I hadn't noticed, but it wasn't until Ken said that I had even thought about it. It was deadly quiet outside the house and my summer visitors had deserted me.
I was happy to see a few little fellows chasing sandflies on the beach at Porth Dafarch two days later and even more excited when yesterday I heard them chattering overhead near to the house. I ran to keep them in view and I was happy to see them buzzing around the old office with the hatch. One little guy did stop on the hatch entrance, so I paused and thought about how much joy these fellows have bought to me over this summer - thank you Swallows and good luck!