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So rich are the myriad associations with swallows, these familiar and beloved of birds! They return with spring and thus are connected with the yearly renewal of life, and with love, fidelity and fertility. They seem to favour being in close company with human beings. They nest close to us under the eaves of houses and in sheds and barns.

For fifteen years a pair of swallows built a nest against a wall in an outbuilding close to my cottage high on Anelog, a moutain in sight of Bardsey Island. From May until August they were a continuing presence with their elegant flight paths and aerobatics over and above the home field of Mount Cottage.

The awareness of birds has been a late arrival in my consciousness of the natural world. And this I share with the poet Kathleen Jamie who claims she did not write about the observational life of a birder until her book of essays Findings, although Swallows and The Swallows' Nest does appear in her first collection of poetry The Tree House. The former poem, with its curious and beautiful use of the word batten in ‘battened heart', made it instantly memorable. It is a captivating poem full of images that for me celebrates all that is swallowness. The Swallows' Nest is quite different, being very much a still-life of objects encountered whilst being shown ‘one bird tucked in a home-made bracket of spittle and earth'.

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Nigel Morgan, Prudential Buildings, 55 Westgate, Wakefield, West Yorkshire, WF1 1BW, United Kingdom Tel: 01924 383017 e-mail: tonalitysystems@mac.com

This website and associated content 2013 Nigel Morgan unless otherwise stated.