To spy a swallow swooping low over water to take a drink or snatch an insect snack is a joy, and now is the perfect time. Keep an eye on overhead telephone wires too, where you’ll often see them gathering. Swallows have glossy navy backs with cream bellies and red chins. Their long, symmetrical tail streamers are a distinctive marker, and are one of the considerations for females when selecting a mate.
Building cup-shaped nests of mud and grass, swallows roost under eaves, beams and joists on houses, sheds and barns. They’ll happily move into man-made nests as long as they’re the right shape. When they’ve raised two or three broods of chicks, the swallows leave our shores between September and October, heading back to Africa for the winter.