Position: 42°38 17.8N 0°00’00.0ESwallows are one of the great migratory birds. Small as they are European swallows will fly over 6,000 miles to winter in South Africa. Then they fly back for summer in Europe. Barn swallows are one of the most common. They have white bellies, blue topsides and a red, or more accurately rufous, throat and long streaming tail feathers. Their wingspan is about a foot across. Powerful mojo for sailors, Carol tattooed a beautiful swallow on her left forearm.
Swifts are a little bigger and also migrate vast distances. They are fast, very fast, cruising the skies at 70mph or more. Being a more uniform brown, they’re not as pretty as barn swallows, but their sweptback wings and flying skills make swifts a perennial favorite.
Both birds are out in force all over Spain right now. At any time of the day you can look up and see their distinct aerodynamically optimized shapes cutting and diving through the warm summer air as they catch insects. If a swallow builds a nest in your house consider it good luck. They’ll happily keep insects under control as long as you don’t poison your garden with pesticides.
I wrote recently about Spain’s ban on neonicintinoid pesticides and how bees are returning in swarms. Our observation is the same is happening for birds. While the UK has seen significant drops in populations, Spain is flush with swallows and swifts. A barn swallow might paraphrase Paul Newman by saying, “I have steak in Spain, why go to England for hamburger?”
This short video has swifts, swallows, a cat (for no reason), an incredible thunderstorm, a number of amazing waterfalls, and cows at the end of the trail. All filmed in the shadows of the great Pyrenees Mountains. The ones that protect Spain from France.