Welcome to another issue of my Christmas 2009 updates.  It's about swallows. 10,000 swallows I estimate.

Actually the next update was meant to be Easter 2010.  It's already written. But time slips by so fast.  Those of you who are of an age to be retired know this so well.  The horizon, once so far away in the distance, is approaching at an ever increasing rate, the days slip by at the speed of light.    Even sitting watching grass grow becomes a pastime to be savoured, to be enjoyed. I've been working on the family tree for around 20 years.  I must get on with it, I intend to be working on it another 30 years, but then, who knows?

So here are some pictures I thought I had already sent out, but I think now I had not. It's memory you know.  What was that I was saying?

Last Autumn - well, remember it is supposed to be my Christmas update, so Autumn was not so far away then - I spotted swallows gathering.

Here is a little composite of 7 photographs that I joined together.  It doesn't really tell you anything. To get the full picture you will need to look at the picture after that which is wider than the screen.  Then scroll over to the right, and the right, and the right.  All the wires you can see on the most right hand side are full of swallows.  Then on top of that there are 100's flying.

You can't see anything much from this little image.  Except note that all those 1000s of blobs are swallows.

Hopefully, depending on the email program you use, and how you have it set up, you can see the full picture below.  Remember, you have to scroll over to the right to see all the swallows and all the wires.  If you are new to emails, click on the horizontal blue bar at the bottom, keep it clicked, and drag it to the right.  Way over to the right!    If you look carefully, you can see where I have joined the photos together. 
(After looking at the photo you need to drag the blue bar back to the left to read my next paragraph)

You did scroll over to the right?  If you didn't, you missed to point of it all.  Blue bar underneath, drag it to the right.

Here is an enlarged photo of the far right.  There are lots of swallows there in the distance.

And here is a photo I took of them flying around closer by.

Why were they here?  Well I am sure that number cannot all be local swallows.  So here's my theory. Maybe here is a gathering point before they all head south.  Why here exactly?  Well, we've got 4 sets of wires on each pole which is quite rare.  Believe me, as a balloon pilot I look at lots of electric wires. 
(I think the 4 wires is to supply 3 phase).  Anyway these 1000s of swallows can hang around in a quad lane perching spot, much better than spreading out along a single wire.  Much more sociable. I think we need to keep these wires even when the electricity goes underground.  They were here last year too, but then I didn't appreciate the numbers.

We are also in a shallow valley.  The river runs north - south, directly towards the Pyrenees, the birds will cross over a pass due south of here.  I am sure that like the cranes, that I mentioned earlier, but saw later, they are following the valley.

They are sitting on the wires about 15 cms apart, on average, and the poles are about 75 metres apart.  4 sets of wires and 6 lengths make 1800 m of wires.  At 6 swallows per metre that makes more than 10,000 swallows...............

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