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Book of the Month – The Swallow: A Biography

Book of the Month

The Swallow: A Biography by Stephen Moss

The Swallow


The Swallow was one of Britain’s most ubiquitous birds, visible on a daily basis for six months of the year. Sadly no longer, my swallows have deserted me and vacated their Summer residence – the open barn is empty. By reading Stephen Moss’ book, The Swallow: A Biography, I am hoping to understand why my Swallows have left

The arrival of the first Swallow in April was the sign of Spring and would lift my spirits. It gave me the greatest pleasure to watch their aeronautical displays, the building of the their nests the birth of the young and the fledglings’ maiden flights. And I would dread their departure in the Autumn as it was the harbinger of Winter

This wonderful book details a year in the life of the Swallow, giving an insight into the hidden secrets of this treasured bird, and its role in our traditional and popular culture, with beautiful illustrations throughout.

We think of the Swallow as one of our birds, however we share this bird with millions of others  around the globe, as it spends half the year in its Winter residence in Africa. The Swallow’s epic journey to Africa for the Winter months is one of the longest trips made by any living  mammal, enabling this bird to live a life of perpetual sunshine. This journey of over 6,000 miles is fraught with dangers

Numbers of Swallow appear to be falling. In the same way that I can no longer guarantee to hear a Cuckoo in Spring, I am now deprived of the uplifting sight of the arrival of the first Swallow. Along with the author, Stephen Moss, I see the Swallow as my ‘seasonal radar’, and the lack of Swallows returning to my barn sets alarm bells ringing. Could this be yet anthother warning of the effects of climate change?

Candida Hopkinson


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