14 May 2006

swallow at twilight, greece

Making a summer

Surrounded by wildlife - birds, dogs, poultry, horrid tree rats, etc - I'm developing city slicker theories.

We have *five* swallow's nests under our eaves and a right mess they make with their crap on the patio, and what a lot of twittering, especially when one has company and is trying to murmur sweet nothings.

They are of course amazing in their swooping and diving and there are times when I wonder how they don't just crash into each other or, indeed, us, diving as they do ensemble under the eaves and past our heads.

But as soon as I bring out the camera to capture these aviatricks, they seem to vanish and I reckon they sense being aimed at, albeit by a camera, and shun it.

Even when I leave the camera alone in movie mode, they still stay clear.

Do they sense the metal or the opening of the lens, or what? Answers please.

We end our summers with around 11 or 12 nests, most of which we clear but always leave 1 or 2. Otherwise they don't come back.

Famous tale told here of a rich Brit lady, came out, bought a place that she called Villa of the Swallows. They duly came, made their mess, and at the end of the summer the lady told her staff to remove them all.

No, they said, you can't do that.

She wanted them all gone. Too messy.

That was many years ago and the place has changed several hands: not a single swallow has returned.

They are charming, above all when the parents are fluttering around the nest encouraging their young to test their wings with a "Like this, darling". Meanwhile, jeunes are cheeping even more loudly:

"Duude, no way. Have you seen that drop. Besides, I kinda liked the arrangement of me opening my gob and you just popping the nosh in there. Like, those worms from the east end of the garden - yumm.

You with me, sis? Yah, flying's for the birds.

Mom, dad? We're cool here in the crib. Y'all get out there and enjoy yerselves, we's fine."

Wildlifery: my Black Sambo dog is usually silent as the grave. Most of the traffic that passes below travels on, but now and then we have a visitor and Sambo is like Radar in "Mash". He'll raise his head and growl and sure enough, 25 secs later, a passing car does NOT pass but turns in. We reckon he's getting the signal from the *start* of the dirt track where they turn off the main sub-drag.

He is also an appalling chaperone and flirt: walk a lady down to the Krystina bench, having ditched the hound with a bone and taken all the sneaky passages, and next thing, he's got his head on her lap and it's all "Aaah ... isn't he cute."

Massa: "Yo, Sambo - I'd sorta mapped out that lap for *my* snuffling. This canine gooseberry stuff keeps up, we need talk about your bone quota .. and that 'lectric collar momma bought way back? Yeh?"

Rats: We have tree rats that eat the fruit. Big as small cats, yukk.

Tar is the answer: tar-soaked rags at the base or, as I've cleverly devised, daubing key branches.

I feel like the angel of the Lord at Passover, swabbing where they need to move on.

Where get tar around here? Ships' chandler.

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