Something terrible happened to ‘our’ swallows this year; though they arrive back like clockwork (as I have often observed: See below) only less than half returned. I watched and waited for their brethren but they were lost! Some calamity has befallen them. Naturally one thinks first of human predation as there are so many folk (here) who resent the mess they make on their walls, whilst dismissing all the good they do in their gardens! However, I suspect some natural calamity is a more likely scenario. The failure of an important food source due to seriously inclement weather is much more likely. There has been a huge ‘cold blob’ formed in the Norther Pacific (which many view as a presage of a return of ‘The Little ice Age’ – we shall see) but it might well have affected the bloom of midges, mosquitoes, etc which they would otherwise have gone North to feed and fatten on, so that many may have starved…it is a simple, yet poignant tragedy. Hopefully they have just not had the energy to make it all the way back and we shall see them again next year. Thankfully (due to my hearing aids) I am delighting in their singing on the verandah this morning. See eg: ‘17/08/2014: At last, the swallows are back scything the air into long swift arcs as they herd the mayflies and mozzies into their sharp beaks: there is nothing quite like a (mud-brick) verandah they opine anywhere between here and Siberia to build a messy nest. I used to hear their sharp shrill calls to each other as they raced across the sky, but like the bats (to me at least) they have fallen silent. Fortunately (at least) we both still have eyes to follow their progress…’
13/12/2016: Swallow Update: The missing birds have at last returned. They came in day before yesterday in a veritable swarm. They all wanted to check out the garage (where many of them were born) and I was standing in their way. They were swooping and diving only inches away from me as they passed by. They must have experienced a period of low food somewhere along their migratory path which delayed them until they were fat enough again to fly. Really glad to seee them back though! Welcome home for the summer little guys!