by Alex White
The swallows are back on my local patch, one day later than last year.
2020 I first saw the swallows back on 20th April
2019 I spotted the first one to return on 19th April
The ones I’ve seen are male, normally the older males arrive two weeks before the females. Swallows use the same nesting sites year after year and first year breeders (if they survive) will use a site within half a mile of where they were born. I like to think that the birds I’ve seen over the past couple of days are the same swallows that I watched last year.
Swallows that spend the summer in the UK, spend their winter in South Africa. Travelling up through the Sahara or following the West coast of Africa, through Spain, the Pyrenees and France.
Flying by day, finding food while they can, they can cover up to 200 miles per day, at speeds of between 17 and 22 mph.
It can be a dangerous journey, and many die from exhaustion and starvation so I’m always really excited to hear the telltale sounds of their return.