Swallows, the harbingers of Spring with their lovely chatter and darting flight are one of our most recognisable birds. Their summer migration takes about four weeks and on the return about six weeks, including crossing the Sahara Desert. The oldest known Swallow was 15 years and 11 months. That was a lot of flying! Let us know if you think swallow numbers have declined in your area.
The Swift is a fantastic flyer. High in our Summer skies with that harsh scream , their aerial gymnastics are a sight to behold, in particular as they approach their nesting spot. It looks as if they are going to crash headlong into the arch of a bridge or whatever crevice they are nesting in but they put the brakes on, feed the young and scream off into the Summer skies. They are almost exclusively on the wing.
The Sand Martin is not quite as flashy as the Swallow but is a lovely little bird . Breeding in vertical sandy banks, often close to rivers. They have brown backs and can be distinguished from swallows by not having fork tails and they are generally smaller. All these species can be seen ,at the same time in summer, around rivers catching flies and insects.
The House Martin the last on our list can be distinguished from the other three by the tell-tale white rump which can be seen as the bird flies away. They are well-known for nesting on our houses and are reputedly said to bring good luck to the house in question. So leave them there!