Swift Reprise

They’ve made it again. Which means the globe’s…finest wildlife columnists are all desperately thinking of something new to say about them this year, rather than quoting Ted Hughes again. And I, casting around for a topic for this blog, couldn’t help but think of swifts since their cries have rung in my ear all day – whether literally or as a consoling echo, a resounding reminder that we once more find ourselves in their enigmatic company.

At least, I thought, I haven’t written about swifts before, even if everybody else working broadly in the nature writing genre has done so nearly annually for as long as I can remember. Wrong! How about this post from June 2012? So what else is there to say about swifts? These miraculous beings appear as if from nowhere, screaming like fireworks, weaving a smudge of grey-black through the clouds as they wheel and whir back to vanishing point.

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Brand New

I don’t expect I’ll ever fully know how remarkable life is, or ever be fully present to the paradise we dwell in, but I am sure that it is in the season of spring that I’ll get closest. Wherever I rest my eye, fresh miracles abound. Plants are clothed in a shade of green so vibrant it might just change your life. Crawling creatures of all shapes, sizes and colours are newly transfigured into their adult forms, whilst overhead sojourning birds celebrate their recent return to this latitude

How can it be that the dusky swift scything through fields of cloud was woven out of dust, specks and motes of hardly anything at all? What unknown worlds exist within the midge swarm that drifts, fairy-like, from the dew-soaked grass, and how did the chiffchaff divine that the time had come to fly north and seek out this rich source of food? And what wonder, that this red damselfly should have emerged from the silty depths of the lake, metamorphosed, taken to the wing and flown.      

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