...in fact they arrived while I was in London, April 15th to be exact and waiting for Bookhound when he arrived home after dropping me at the station, so it was cheering to return from my travels to find the swallows (Hirundo rustica) had also returned and were in residence again.
We can only hope the bit about summer is true because the deluge has been Biblical and we are still in thermals (me) and lighting fires (Bookhound.) In fact the main nest isn't as tiny as this genteel card from 1905 would suggest, it is now a veritable block of flats as the birds add yet another layer year on year and shore it up, make repairs and turf out the wrens.
This is now truning into the avian version of the 'second home in rural areas' controversy, with disputes going on above the front door as the wrens (Troglodytes troglodytes) having claimed squatter's rights through the winter, have proceeded to furnish their cosy little mossy caves inside the empty swallows' nests, cramming about fifteen into one room (we know, we've counted) . Back come our posh fair-weather friends, like pillaging Vikings, having wintered in sunnier climes and let the eviction battle commence. It's noisy and the locals put up a good fight, and though they never win over the penthouse, and those occupants move chirpily to the wisteria, the wrens have thus far had ongoing and moderate success with the smaller apartments...
I never cease to be amazed at the way such tiny birds can create something quite so intricate...those twigs must surely outweigh the little trogs, and this year they seem to have plumped for a policy of excess, the barricades enough to daunt any marauding swallow. This might be too much information but can I own up that some of my hair is likely to be in there, because I always clear the hairbrush and leave my own moultings on the veranda roof where it is quickly harvested for thermal nest lining....seems a pity to waste when we are busy recycling everything else.
So every year the same routine.
We sweep and scrub the veranda (actually this year I hoovered it) de-cobweb it and move the log-store thinking how much we will enjoy sitting on it should the sun shine. We even dust off the gravity recliners in readiness when in reality we all say goodbye to the entire veranda for the forseeable future as the swallows assert their authority with us too. Dive-bombing at every opportunity as they start to lay, hatch, feed and fledge the next generation, while Jim the Postie takes his life and the top of his head in his hands getting the post to the front door.
Any excuse for another glimpse of Janis Goodman's wonderful etching too...
So are your Happy Returners back??