Here is this year’s gang of four baby swallows, barely able to fit in their nest because they’ve grown so big. They fill me with pure and concentrated happiness.
Every year a pair of Welcome Swallows raises a family in their nest high on the wall near my back verandah. It’s a wonderful thing. We saw them build their nest from scratch five years ago and each year they repair and renovate it before filling it with their eggs.
Every year the day the baby swallows fly for the first time is one of great elation. It is always very uplifting – for them and for me!
Last year it happened during the time when we were showering out at the bore tap in the garden because we’d run out of fresh water. I was showering outdoors in the early morning sun when a flock of dozens and dozens of swallows arrived and started flying around in tight and low swooping ovals. They kept swishing past me and looping up past the nest, making much noise. I called my husband who said the same thing had happened while he’d been showering too.
Every Welcome Swallow in the district was there to welcome the baby birds to the joy of flying. It was an amazing display aimed at encouraging the babes to join in. We missed the moment of them leaving the nest but suddenly four tiny little swallows were swooping with the flock. They started to fly in bigger loops, up high over the roof and back, rather than just under the eaves. Two butterflies joined in, trailing behind the swallows, caught up in their joy of flying. We were too.
When I took these photos of this year’s nest full of love, I thought, these babies are well and truly ready to fly.
The next morning on 5 October, I heard much tweeting and one of the babies was flying around with its parents, flapping its little wings very, very fast, as they do on their first flight. It is very endearing.
And this year we saw the actual moment when each of the remaining three babes launched from their nest for the very first time. Their parents had been swooping past them, calling out to them. The babes made much excited tweeting, then – one, two, three – each one took off, in a straight-line trajectory from the nest. They were fast, too fast to photograph.
This year the family was joined by other swallows after the babies has taken their first flight. But once again, they all flew in formation in ever larger and larger ovals over the house and garden. The baby swallows flew for hours, sometimes resting for a while in a line on top of the air conditioner. In the late afternoon, they all squeezed back in the nest for the night, tired but happy. They had had a very big day.