Having spent the winter in South Africa, swallows are now winging their way back to our shores.

They began their epic six thousand mile flight at the beginning of March. Covering on average two hundred miles each day, their hazardous journey takes about a month to complete. On their way here swallows overfly fourteen countries beginning at Namibia thence Zambia, Congo, Cameroon, Nigeria, Algiers, Morocco, Gibraltar, Spain and France.

What an incredible flight, encountering forests, vast deserts,mountains and grassy plains, constantly at the mercy of predators inclement weather and head winds, all of which limit feeding opportunities.

If our weather remains bitterly cold for much longer, the birds may linger a little while in Spain before completing the final leg of the trip.

For, feeding exclusively on the wing, swallows (pictured) would find no airborne insects about in icy Britain.

From about the first week in April, conditions permitting, I hope to stroll along the towpath at Kingston keeping a weather eye open for their jinking flight and keep my ears attuned to hear that delightful musical twittering song as they skim just above the Thames on their home patch.