Where have all the swallows gone? This question could also be asked for house martins and swifts as well. Although small numbers of swallows and martins were initially seen (parties of twenty and thirty) flying around the area, and rather later than usual, they all seem to have moved on. I have done several searches of known sites and as I write on 19th May, nothing! We walked along the canal last night from Rowton to Christleton and heard and saw up to six singing chiff chaff, two black caps several blackbirds etc Although we have seen several families of mallard, they too are down in numbers, and there were no families of moorhens along this stretch. Where are the swallows, martins swifts etc? I just don’t know, and there is nothing I’ve read nationally that gives any clues. It is a possibility that the extreme weather patterns we saw in April, with persistent cold winds from the Arctic, on the jet stream, stopped their northerly movement from continental Europe. This was followed by a short spell of southerly winds and warm sun when the first arrivals were seen, but a change in wind direction again coming from the north seems to have stopped their progress once again.
Many varieties of wild flowers seem to be benefiting from the unusual heavy rainfall and occasional warm sun, and the first signs of common spotted orchids can be seen in the meadow, and friends have seen early purple orchids in full flower in North Wales. A group of us have been planting wild flower plugs and plants in the Legion Meadow, including 150 plugs of yellow rattle, to try to suppress the overwhelming growth of grass varieties. The meadow will be at its best in June/July, and the variety of plants are increasing every year. It is said that a wild flower meadow takes 15 years to mature and the Legion Meadow was first established in 2008. We also took the opportunity this late winter to thin out the growth of trees between the Meadow and the Dixon’s Alms Houses. We also removed lots of ivy which was beginning to kill many of the saplings. This has allowed more light to reach the meadow and the Alms Houses and opens up the view for the residents. The first butterflies have been seen on the meadow, with speckled wood, comma, orange tip, red admiral, peacock and holly blue being recorded. Among the birds heard calling and possibly nesting are, black cap, chiff chaff, willow warbler, goldfinch, goldcrest, robin, wren, nuthatch, song and mistle thrush and blackbird. A kestrel was seen frequently, and groups of house martins and swallows were flying over the meadow at the beginning of May. The meadow is there for everyone to enjoy, but please keep to the mown paths and keep dogs on leads. The flora and fauna can all be seen from the paths.
Several people have become concerned and reported to the Parish Council, that there is a greylag goose with a piece of plastic in its beak at the Pit. I have watched it now for the last six weeks and as it is perfectly happy feeding, and flying in and out of the Pit daily I’m sure it is ok. Although the plastic is still visible the bird is behaving and feeding normally. Several coots, moorhens and mallard have had families and are very visible at the Pit, but the attractive shoveler ducks have now gone, probably to the Dee Marshes. They are a relatively new species to the village, and we have hoped each year that they would breed, but sadly for the fourth year now they have over wintered, then moved on in late spring.
PS We had two swallows sitting on the telegraph wires outside the house last night. Perhaps all is not yet lost.