July 31, 2014

A Short Stay

July 29th was a day like any other but, when I woke on the morning of the 30th, something had changed.

I see the good part of the year as a bit like watching a hot air balloon being inflated. It starts with a flat, empty pocket full of nothing but potential. Then, with a gust from the gas bottle and a waft or two of the edge of it's canopy, there appear little bubbles and bumps like the first blooms of spring.  Nothing much happens for a while then, with an impatient rush, there is colour and movement and a great rising orb that can carry the souls of many with it as it ascends into a clear sky. It is as beautiful to observe as it is to fly and those on board must look down upon a sea of smiling faces. It is an event.

Then, the fight between the hot air from the tanks and the cooling air outside indicates a point of no return and from that moment, although the flight may continue for some time, it is doomed and classed as a somewhat protracted descent.

That is what happened on July 30th 2014.

It has always happened around this time of year although my memory tries to convince me that it used to be much later. But I keep an eye on such things and come the end of July each year and the swifts depart. One little moment in a world of animal migration and wonderful animal happenings and one that always saddens me.

It may be that from your current location you can still see and as importantly hear swifts as they wheel around the sky in the continual pursuit of food. There will be a number of birds still over the UK for a month or two yet and indeed just last year, with its painfully late Spring, they were here for at least another couple of weeks. But not usually. Not now. They have gone.

Their departure means one thing. Summer is now in free fall and everything is sliding inexorably toward autumn. You can't stop it and goodness knows this has been a very good summer with balmy evenings where I've sat outside absorbing the warm, thick air whilst listening to that exciting high pitched scream as groups of swifts soar effortlessly above. But from now on there will be just that little chill in the air. Air that will begin to feel decidedly thinner during evenings that will feel decidedly shorter.

So a lament to the swift. The bird that never stops flying and even sleeps on the wing. A bird that has to wait two or three years after fledging for its first rest if rest is the right word for nesting. A bird that has been recorded at twenty one years of age would you believe, which means that particular creature would have flown some three million miles.

Hearing the first swifts around the full moon at the end of May is a red letter day in any year, their departure is most certainly a grey one.


By the way, I've made a decision. Its my last physio session tomorrow so win lose or draw I'm going fishing at the weekend. Well I have to, haven't you heard? Autumns coming.


  1. Dave. As someone that had suffered with a bad back for years, I took up Yoga in 2010. Nothing crazy just an hour every other day. It transformed my life, and while I still have problems I can manage it. My bad condition was very serious, and I was on some stiff medication for around 15 years. Now I'm off it.

    I don't know what your problem is, but please try Yoga, and get in touch of you need any advice?

    Kind wishes. Richard.

  2. Its something I've considered in the past but have shunned for no good reason. Your recommendation will prompt me to looking again. There are classes held near me so I will make the effort.

    Thanks for the advice, much appreciated.

  3. We've still got the swifts around here over the Derbyshire Wye Dave, but they will be going any day now. The nights are already drawing in quickly and although we have another good month to come of fishing during the spinner returns, they will be shorter evenings and a tangle at 21:30 will now mean "Go home!" when it used to mean "Oh blast it! I'll have to retie this leader quickly to make the most of the light..."


    1. I guess they fledge earlier as you get farther south due to temperature and available food but he south has more swifts later on as migrating birds hang about having a last feed.

      I don't mind the autumn coming, I just like swifts :o)

  4. Dave,

    I've been saying to La Rocca Autumn is on it's way these last few weeks. Our Apple tree has dropped all it's fruit a couple of weeks back. The Blackberry bushes have been bent double also with their fruit. All picked now and gone to a good home.

    A portent maybe for a harsh winter to come ? Or a back to front year weather wise.

  5. Even up in t'grim North the fruits are a ripening,..... an early one for sure, ...... Oh and I love swifts too.

  6. You have fruit up there? Then why does nobody eat it?