In some parts of the UK, the migrants have already departed, but there are plenty of swifts, housemartins, sandmartins, and barn swallows here in East Anglia, from the North Norfolk coast, to deepest Norfolk and west again to Cambridge (well those are the places I’ve seen them this week).
Back in early May, I photographed adult (barn) swallows (Hirundo rustica) getting it on at Bottisham Lock on the River Cam near Waterbeach (north of the city of Cambridge). The adults are still whirling around the skies and scooping up water and insects from the river. These two products of that springtime behaviour were anything but shy when I turned the camera on them.
On a sultry late August afternoon, they seemed to be relaxing, totally oblivious to the fact that in a few days time they will be flying some 300 kilometres a day south. They will cross the perillous Sahara Desert on an approximately 9500 km journey to their winter abode in South Africa. They’re less than four months old and it will take them a month or so to make that journey. And, early next March/April those that survive the journey and the South African summer will head north again to start the cycle once more.
Incidentally, it was not just before Christmas 1912 that we knew for certain that barn swallows seen in the English summer were migrating all the way to South Africa. A bird ringed in the summer by James Masefield in Staffordshire was identified in Natal on 23rd December that year.
Oh, and in case you missed it on Facebook back in May…here’s the earlier activity
Felt inspired by these gorgeous creatures to put together a sultry instrumental on a late summer’s day.