'Agree With Everything - Deny Nothing - Embellish All

Sunday, September 04, 2005

All You Can Eat

The swallows have returned. Back in July Sheep-Fighting Man turned the field in front of the cottage over to grass. This afternoon, in the heat of late summer, the middle air a few feet above the grass was swarming with flies and insects. It wasn't long before their predators arrived. Several scores of swallows began their long swoops, cossing and recrossing the field, sometimes no more than four or five inches above the grass. Then each bird would rise, suddenly, at the end of its run, and dive again, sheering away by the cottage wall or towards the owls' tree. Sometimes as they rise they halt mid-air, I hear a low 'click' and they roll, all aerodynamics lost for an instant by the taking of their prey. Then they're right, they dive again, and wheel across the grass. The field before me is a cauldron of predation, and it is hugely impressive to watch these creatures so well adapted to their task making so much of the feeding grounds which the world provides them.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you sure these were swifts? BTO reports only around 20 in the country by end August.

5/9/05 9:56 am  
Blogger Nick said...

Aarrgghh!! Well spotted. They are of course swallows. Post duly updated.

5/9/05 12:39 pm  
Anonymous Steve said...

Nick -
This is more a shared experience and comparison than an attempt at one-upmanship, but in January Phylomena and I spent a whole hot afetrnoon on a game reserve in KwaZulu-Natal watching the grassy valley below and eagles gliding above... every 15 minutes or so one would dive and come up clutching a snake. What eyes they must have! It was (even if like me you quite like snakes) a very beautiful thing to see.

11/9/05 6:04 pm  
Blogger Nick said...

Must be absolutely stunning - the kestrels hereabouts are impressive, but nothing on that scale

11/9/05 6:47 pm  

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