Thursday, 19 April 2012

NATURE ~ More Rain, A Lone Swallow and Other Birds

We live in a valley, between two country market towns, Marlborough and Hungerford. I love them both and also enjoy the peaceful drive there and back through the rolling hills with farms tucked underneath their arms framed by old villages. It is very quiet, I don't meet many other cars but I often meet a lot of wildlife along the way. The small patches of woods and the open meadows and fields are full of Deer, Hare, Rabbits, Stoats and all kind of birds including birds of prey. While driving I scan the skies for winged things. If I go by the village ponds I meet an assortment of waterfowl as well. But my favourite birds which I always welcome back with the greatest excitement and joy are the Swallows, House Martins and Swifts.

I had to go into Marlborough today and the rain stopped just long enough on the way home to stop and photograph some of my favourite cottages and fields. I was attracted to a Kestrel, hovering by a country lane, but it spooked so no photos of him to share! I was watching the Rooks, like naughty teenagers skating on the wind over a bright field of yellow rape when out of the corner of my eye I caught the sightest glimpse of the bouncing flight of a familar graceful friend.

My heart lept with expectation - could it really be? Was it possible, even in these storms, my brave little friends have made the epic journey from South Africa? I held my breath and crept a little closer. My camera is nothing special, no big lens, so I could only hope I was near enough to be able to tell. And I am as blind as a Bat, so I had to rely on poor eyesight and an inadequate lens. YES! There it was, the deepest midnight blue, the black of the Raven's wing and best of all the blood red markings under the chin, the forked tail, and the soft white. A Swallow, all on it's own perched on a fence. Well, that is other than the Quail who was sneaking in and out of the plants underneath him. 

Swallows, House Martins and Swifts always seem to me to fly with the greatest joy, the Swifts shrieking with excitement, the Swallows and House Martins leaping into the breeze with glee, riding it ever so high and then down so low. This one, though on it's own, was chirping loudly and after allowing me a few moments of joy it was gone as quickly as it had come. Alas my camera is not swift enough to catch it on the wing but thankfully my eye was.

What they actually look like through a better lens or eye than mine!
By Molly Brett, the Fairy artist from Surrey.

This field was full of wildlife, I spotted Rabbits, Quail, Pheasants, Crows, and Rooks. And my magnificent Swallow. For a few minutes the sun shone, no rainbow but I did not care. Bliss!

I always await their arrival every year and their departure at the end of summer fills me with sorrow. Even though I am a Winter person I think that when I leave this world of which I am much fond I'd prefer to do so while the Swifts, Swallows and House Martins are on the wing in my village fields. I could not bear to think that I was leaving without having seen them one last time.

The Flight of the Swallows by JH Lorimer.

This is a favourite oil painting of mine. I love the quiet symbolism of it. The shadows against the warm glow of the light, all the pale and golden tones and the blue sky outside the window. I find it quite poignant and understood at once the feeling of the scene. It was set in Kellie Castle in Fife. It is showing the elegant interior of an Edwardian household. A mother kneels on a window cushion as she and her three children look out the window. The sun seems to be setting as the room and the sky are lit with a warm glow. One of the children is seen sitting with her face in her hands, as if crying over the loss of summer. The other two children stand with their mother waving goodbye to the swallows.

I hope that soon the House Martins who nest on our cottage will be back as well. It's raining again, quite hard, and I worry for all the small creatures, and the large ones too.


  1. The illustrations you've chosen for this post are beautiful, and prompt me to find out a little more about the artists.
    Spring is slow to arrive here, on the coast, this year. It seems that the cherries bloomed in the cold and rain, and that all the blossoms were blown off before I could walk under the trees and gaze up through the pink to the blue sky - something I like to do each year.
    The mornings are filled with birdsong now, so perhaps the birds know that warmer weather is on the way.

    1. Thank you, glad you enjoyed the post. I love both artists and you can find some of their work online through the museum sites. It's lovely when the petals are on the ground, like confetti, but sad not to see the blossoms on the trees where they would have liked to linger.

      Stay warm, Spring will return! x

  2. A swallow already! Isn't that great? What I've noticed around here is the increasing numbers of Buzzards and Red Kites. Sitting atop hedges and telephone poles or soaring right up high up in the sky. The Crows don't like them at all!
    Hope you are enjoying your weekend,
    Essie x

    1. This rainy weather is keeping all the birds away - I do hope the sun comes out again soon. Kites and Buzzards are on the increase, I love their big forms over our heads! x

  3. You have swallows! I am watching for ours every day. They nest in the old stone pigsties every year but no sign yet!

    1. Have you got swallows yet? I'd love to have them nesting on our own land, how wonderful. x

  4. Gosh, I think I had a fairy book by Molly Brett as a child! Just looked up her illustrations in google, beautiful memories :)
    We had some swallows under our balcony two years ago; I really loved watching them. Very nice post, thanks a lot

    1. Hi Torwen, I think often we take for granted what we read as children and only really appreciate how wonderful it was when we are much older.

      I hope you get the Swallows back this year, last year was a bad year for them in the long trip they make.


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