The annual migration to Sliabh Mannan of the house martins (bottom right) and swallows (top left) began a week ago.
It always seems to me a wonderful thing that these small birds can make the journey of many thousands of miles from southern Africa, yet even more astonishing is that each year they travel such a great distance in order to resume their interrupted residence in my outbuildings.
What, I wonder, is the nature of the advertising used by hirundine travel agents in the spring? Come to beautiful Sliabh Mannan folks; 500 feet above sea level, unspoiled natural surroundings and all the midges you can eat? Time share in a 1783 stable block with your old friends the horses? Play amusing games in the garden diving at the cat? Sliabh Mannan is THE place for a bird to be at this time of year.
Well, whatever the persuasion they employ, it seems to work. Here they all are again, remodelling and refurbishing last year's nests, zooming all around the farmyard and twittering loudly at each other, no doubt exchanging news of how they outwitted the bird hunters in Cyprus or drought in the Sahara.
Welcome back boys and girls. Now I know it's really spring!