Sunday, 11 May 2014
A Swift One
We spent a blustery, sunshine-and-showers afternoon in the water-meadows beside the Itchen today. The swifts, swallows and martins have now arrived in force, following a few trailblazers who arrived in the last few weeks, and there was a mayfly hatch this afternoon, so things were buzzing. The swallows seem mainly to prefer to cruise up and down the river, but if you stand in the middle of a meadow, swifts and martins zip all around you at great speed. It's a wonderful spectacle.
How they avoid crashing into things or each other is a mystery. I don't think they have anything as sophisticated as echo-location, though they do shriek a lot as they go careering around. It reminded me of a house we used to rent in Brittany, which had a bright outside light that attracted moths. If you turned it on in the early evening, you could watch through the french windows as bats of various sizes screeched around the house like floodlit speedway racers, snatching up moths as they went.
We passed a rather nice house for sale down near one of the river channels, one of three in a converted mill. When I got home I checked how much they wanted for it: guide price, £800,000. Yikes. Winchester prices remind me why we live in Southampton.