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Swallows are now here in some numbers, so summer can't be far away!

The House Martin, a similar aerial insect eating species, arrives a little later; it is in decline and is the subject of a survey organised by the British Trust for Ornithology this year. One possible reason for the reduction in numbers may be the unfavourable under-the-eaves nesting environment of modern houses. I have heard that in Belgium house owners are paid for successful breeding House Martins! Perhaps a question for prospective parliamentary candidates?

I learned the above at a talk I went to recently on Swifts, where there is a campaign to encourage the addition of Swift nestboxes in new building construction or when old buildings are renovated. Swifts arrive here in May, their screaming groups around the rooftops in late summer a lovely feature of the British summer; recent research has shown they make the journey from Madrid to the UK in 2 to 3 days. Alastair Henderson