Taking a break



A few days away can work wonders and, it seems, be as good as a holiday abroad. A break in the same routine helps and it has boosted my morale to be by the sea again. A change in the monotony is exciting and gives better sleep.

Mind you, I have been hearing a lot about swifts recently, who must sleep as they fly, I don’t know how they manage it. They do everything whilst they are in the air. They eat, sleep and mate but never land except to nest. Sadly, this is another instance of a bird that is in trouble with its numbers here dropping drastically.

In the little seaside town, where I have just been, I was interested to read of swifts returning to houses to nest year after year. The houses were all due for an upgrade which means filling in the nesting holes between the roof and the gutter. But the far-seeing Council, who instructed the work to be done, got the builders to put up special nest boxes for the swifts’ return next year.

This reminds me of an instance, involving swallows, when a house near us was being renovated. Swallows were nesting against an old rotting beam in the house, getting in through a broken window. The nest was full of young, and I feared for their future as heavy equipment moved in. The nest fell but the builders saw what had happened and lifted it to safety, onto a ledge and wedged it with a brick. The nestlings were found by their parents and they all survived and fledged. Not a newspaper heading about ‘Swift Action’ of builders but a life-saving action for the swallows.

Here in Shropshire, there are swift colonies and I have heard them screaming in the skies. Black boomerang shaped wings cut the air, with screams echoing over the rooftops. They nest in bell towers and some churches have installed swift boxes and a sound system of swift voices which will attract the birds to a safe place, making sure the colony survives.

When I was away, I collected some fossils from the beach. It is such a delight to find a reminder of lives long ago. Even a common shell pattern is to be pocketed, savoured, and treasured. These days some beaches are designated ‘No take’ beaches, so after I have held them, and at the end of my visit, I put the fossils back for another person to wonder over.

And we were full of wonder at our vegetable and fruit garden when we returned home. Everything has grown and there is a lot of work to be done with renewed energy.

(Taken from my column in the Shropshire Star) 

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