We've noticed a significant decline in the number of swallows with us this summer, and it seems we're not alone. Paul Stancliffe from the British Trust for Ornithology has said that the swallows are here, "but seem to be in much lower numbers than we would expect".
A summer without swallows feels somehow incomplete - so why are there so few swallows in the UK this year? As it turns out, there are a number of possible explanations.
The COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic has devastated the UK in many different ways. We've mourned tens of thousands of deaths. The country's GDP has fallen by more than 20 per cent. Unemployment has soared. Children have missed months of school, and families have been unable to spend time together.
But if all that bad news has made you desperate for a silver lining, here it is: the Great Lockdown of 2020 appears to have been quite beneficial for UK wildlife.
It fills my heart with pride to see our Swallows back and swooping over our Really Wild Bird feed production farm. They are miracles of migration. It is very humbling to think that they navigated the 3,000 miles back from South Africa ( via the treacherous Sahara desert ) to Street End Farm, without any need for a post code or a TomTom! Weighing in at a meagre 20g (about the weight of 2 x £1 coins) - I wonder how much they lose during their trip? The coincidental arrival of Eleanor's pony, Megan, and the pile of associated pony dung will create an additional source of airborne insects for the Swallows to replenish their depleted stores. Isn't it amazing to think that Barn Swallows will feed their young about 400 times in a day…that is dedication for you! I can only hope that this summer will be better for them than last - surely it has to be?