Quite literally this time. We were rushing to finish the animals on Saturday evening and I had to leave my husband to nip indoors and inject our diabetic cat. I was just about to pop the insulin back in the fridge when I heard a call for help coming from the garden. I knew all our cats were indoors and the llamas and pig had seemed fine only ten minutes earlier, so I couldn’t understand what might be wrong. Abandoning the idea of donning socks and wellingtons, I ran outside in my slippers to see my husband holding a tiny baby swallow. Of course, we knew the adults were back and nesting in the roof of the field shelter and we had even heard cheeping a few days earlier. This little one must have been trying out his wings and “fallen with style” (in Buzz Lightyear fashion) into the feed bin. My husband wanted to get a ladder and put him back in the nest, but I was wary of the high temperatures forecast for the next few days. In the end we opted for Plan B and installed him in the hay rack. It wasn’t far from the nest and yet closer to the door and some fresher air. I watched quietly for a few minutes until his parents returned. It didn’t take them long to find him and resume the evening feed.
The next morning we interrupted the morning round to check on “Junior”, but he was nowhere to be seen. Not in the hay rack and not visible in the straw bedding. My heart started to sink, but then we heard a familiar cheeping coming from the bottom of the feed bin. He seemed bright enough and although a tad unconventional as a nest, he is actually quite safe. The shelter is out of bounds for our cats and foxes wouldn’t dare go anywhere near our llamas. This is now his third day in residence and with a bit of luck he will be ready to fly fairly soon.
It reminds me of a mid-September day a few years ago when some late hatching chicks made their first short flight around our fields. The weather was already turning and adult swallows were beginning to gather for the long flight back home. They do this every year without fail and some days we can see dozens circling above. It’s as if they know there is strength in numbers and they are just waiting for the stragglers to catch up before they leave. It was raining by the time the three little ones left the safety of the field shelter. They ventured as far as the fence between our two fields, where they perched, looking damp and miserable. I rushed indoors to grab my camera and crept into the field. There was no cover and I don’t have a long lens, so I waited until I was within six feet to risk a few shots. A few days later and the swallows were nowhere to be seen.