Sep 2009 – Swallows

The late summer burst of fine weather made blackberry picking a must and several apple and blackberry crumbles ensued, following walks to Spain (a deserted village on the cliffs, where it is said that a spanish galleon once sank). The wild flower meadow this year has been dominated by wild thistles, each year a different species takes control. Last year it was the feathery grasses that made the meadow look like lavender fields. This year the purple seed heads of the thistles attracted flocks of goldfinches, with their pretty red faces and yellow markings on their wings, as well as beautiful butterflies.

But this September will be remembered for the swallows. Great flocks of over 50 birds congregated on roofs, trees and power lines each afternoon for a couple of weeks. Suddenly they would take off and swoop and glide up into the blue skies, then dive down at low level through the meadow feasting on small insects. I’ve never experienced such sight or sounds before. The baby swallows that hatched this month were obvious in the flock with their yellow beaks and frantic flapping of wings, every now again they would land on a windowsill to be fed by one of the parents.

As I write this at the end of September and with the departure of the swallows, the homestead has a completely different atmosphere. The fine weather has continued, but there is stillness in the air as though the land is getting ready to snuggle down for the winter. The trees have lost most of their leaves. The birds which visit our homestead now will stay with us throughout the winter. Tree Sparrows and cheeky robins come to watch as we dig the soil hoping for a worm or two.

The seasons are wonderful. Having enjoyed the summer months there is still nothing better than lighting our first fire of the autumn in the stove and with the growth slowing in the garden, there is more time to contemplate our plans for the homestead for next year.

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