Coun­try Mouse

A swift con­clu­sion?

Country Life Every Week - - Town & Country -

WE are lucky to have a smat­ter­ing of swal­lows back from Africa, but the to­tal num­ber flash­ing around our house is lower than it has ever been. Even in the still quiet of an evening’s fish­ing, with mayflies hatch­ing in their count­less thou­sands, there is empti­ness in the sky. I used to be able to pre­dict the for­tune of a day’s fish­ing just by the num­ber of swal­lows and house­martins hoover­ing up the in­sects in the sky above the river. Now, it’s al­most empty, al­though there do seem to be a few more swifts scream­ing about than in past years.

Has ev­ery­where seen a crash in swal­low num­bers or is it just south­ern Eng­land? Will there, one day, be no swal­lows to greet our sum­mers? I’ve heard just one cuckoo this year and won­der whether fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will hear one at all.

Still, the fish­ing on the Rivers Meon, Test and Nad­der has been ex­cel­lent as long as you’re pre­pared to wait late into the evening for the lugubri­ous trout to con­jure up the en­ergy to start feed­ing. On the beats next to mine, most peo­ple seeemed to leave be­fore the fun re­ally started. MH

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