While we have been making our virtual journey up through Africa, the British Swallows have been preparing themselves for their annual migration back to the UK & Ireland from South Africa. For their last few weeks in the African sun, they can be seen in their flocks, urgently flying and feeding on the insects they catch, resting on telephone wires and thatch roofs catching the sun in their dozens, changing the landscape for a few brief weeks. They leave their nesting sites – a favourite is always under the eaves of the bridges over the motorways, and begin their 6 week or more journey back.
The swallows make their way the west coast, through Namibia, Zambiaup to Cameroon,Nigeria, Algeria, Morroco, Gibraltar and Madrid, from Spain to Northern France before finally completing the journey in the UK. April – May will see most of the survivors of this arduous journey making landfall here. They will have travelled 200 miles most days, around 20 miles per day. They are affected by decreasing food sources and changes in climate causing many to die from exhaustion and starvation.
They rest awhile upon our shores, build or repair their nests to breed before starting the whole process again in reverse to arrive back in South Africa in September and October.
All without the aid of man and technology…