Looking for the first swift

The church clock has just struck 6.00 a.m. - it is a minute fast - and with a clear sky I am scanning the blue above the tower for any sight of a swift.  They could be here today, and have arrived already, but I have yet to see one.  It is a perfect morning for that first sighting, so maybe I’ll just keep a particular lookout in the Swanage places on this Friday, a week into the month of May.  Between St Mary’s and the sky over the cottages by the millpond, behind the Red Lion pub and along the road between the health centre and the post office, seem to be our closest possibilities. 

They will have come several thousand miles, fuelling up on the way from south east Africa, travelling across the continent and up through its eastern countries, feeding on flying insects over lakes and rivers, finding their way across desert areas; the young who will breed for the first time here and the older adults who will find their partner and nest site from previous years.  They will be with us until the beginning of August, and, pandemic or not, will be a mark of summer - in sound and sight.  Their ease of flight, speed and grace, will delight us for another year.  Without a doubt, one of God’s wonderful creatures.

John Mann