the sound of summer

Every year I wait impatiently for the arrival of the swifts. Always around May 9th, suddenly the air is filled with their screaming, their scimitar shapes arcing through the sky after their long journey north from Africa. I always think of that line from Paul Simon's Hearts and Bones: 'the arc of a love affair'... how do they find their way home? Is it like a love affair? Something deep inside them urging them on, a deep certainty that they will know when they've arrived?

At last, then, they are here. I waited outside long after the light began to fade yesterday, hoping to see their familiar shapes against the silhouettes of the trees, but there was nothing except the bat flitting back and forth and the hooting of owls. Early this morning, though, I just knew it. I fumbled to open the back door. I searched against the bright sunlight. Sure enough, there they were, two of them, quite low in the still of the morning, looking for insects. Twelve hours late, but still. They have a long way to come.

They come to breed, hardly stopping their flight to build a loose nest and raise a brood of chicks, high up somewhere under eaves or abandoned towers, and they will be gone by the first week of August, (this Observer's Book of Birds is about seventy five years out of date), but for three wonderful months, they are the magical sight and sound of high summer.

14 comments:

Gigibird said...

So what you are saying is there is going to be a lot of bird sex going on in Manchester over the next couple of weeks?
I am very jealous of the fact my neighbours have sparrows nesting in their eaves…..I did have a pair of blue tits give my little bird house the once over but it was clearly not what they were looking for…..
The road where I did most of my growing up used to be full of swifts and swallows.

Gilly said...

I love swifts. Especially as they scream through the rooftops in a gang. I seew them as the hoodies of the air!

(for US visitors, 'hoodies' refer to young male teenagers who go around with the hoods of their jackets/sweaters up. this way they cannot be identified, and the term is usually used to refer to rather scary and lawless youth!)

Hens Teeth said...

Sue, you have summed up the joy of Swifts so beautifullly. The chatter of Swallows and House Martins are a joy too. Hate it when they leave our skies.

Diane said...

I love your new header. I hope you are feeling a bit better - you sound as if you are having a tough time. Be kind to yourself.

Lyn said...

You painted the picture beautifully! We have housemartins that come every year to nest under our eaves.
Love Lyn
xxx

Menopausal musing said...

We get housemartins and they are better than any barometer...... swooping low: the weather is going to start to change for the worse. Flying high: the weather will be warm and sunny. They appear to have such fun. x

Pipany said...

I love them too and have seen one so far. Beautiful creatures aren't they? x

Jackie said...

We have much activity outside our bedroom window just above it, every year but I don't know if its swifts or house martens.
Either way I am thrilled to be their landlady.

PG said...

I haven't seen any swifts so far, but we've had swallows for several weeks - I always feel sorry for any swift or swallow arriving too early, they look so downhearted!

Frances said...

Here's a funny thing, Sue ... I don't think that I have ever seen a swift. From what you beautifully described, and after reading the above comments, I can tell I am missing something.

(I do know what hoodies are, but would rather see swifts in flight.) xo

Sue said...

Thank you for your comments :-) Glad you all like our lovely swifts too x

Gilly said...

I love swifts really! It amuses me though to see them screeching round the roofs in gangs in the late summer!

Julia said...

How very beautiful.

I have a love for these little birds myself, to me, they are the essence of summer and I always feel very lifted when I see them on the wire by the farm on the lane.

Lovely blog, my first visit - will call in again soon.

With love
Julia xxx

Sue said...

Thank you Julia, it's nice to see you! I envy you your rural location - I think the birds you are seeing on the wire are almost certainly swallows, as swifts never stop flying and don't tend to perch - you are lucky, anyway, as we don't get swallows and I love them too :-)