Thursday, 16 May 2013

Swereee swereee!

We've been waiting for the swifts to return.  We've heard rumours that they are back and even heard a very faint sound very high in the sky.  Did I imagine that?  Was it a distant finch or a hoarse sparrow?  Sitting in a pub garden a couple of weeks ago, a friend said "Ah the swifts are back again!".  We turned to look but saw nothing.  Spring has taken its time this year and this last week has been rather cold and wet again.  To use a local word, I even felt completely shrammed* the other day and hid under a blanket.

Then, this morning, the sun was out again, the air was warmer and over my head with a swereee swereee, darting low over the houses were the swifts! 

Swifts always signal the start of summer to me.  These remarkable birds migrate between Africa and Europe every year, coming back to us in April or May and leaving again about August.  They have very short feet, as they rarely settle on the ground, mostly flying or clinging to vertical surfaces.  Even into Medieval times, they were drawn as having no feet at all.  They can spend entire days on the wing, only landing to feed their young or to roost. 

The sight of the swifts screaming across the sky really lifted my mood.  The cold grey rainy days will return soon enough no doubt, but because of the swifts in the blue skies this morning the air was full of possibilities and new life.

"It was an ideal spring day, a light blue sky, flecked with little fleecy white clouds drifting across from west to east.  The sun was shining very brightly, and yet there was an exhilarating nip in the air, which set an edge to a man's energy."
-  Sir Arthur Conan Doyle  

"Every spring is the only spring - a perpetual astonishment."
-  Ellis Peters  

*Southern English dialect word for being very very cold

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