The early mornings in this corner of rural Leicestershire have once again become noticeably quieter.
For a brief period at the end of August the dawn sky above the house had been filled with the rush of swallows, thousands and thousands of them, swooping and whirling and diving in the half-light before settling en-masse on the telephone wires, their excited chirrupings and chitterings filling the morning air.
I have never before seen so many swallows around here and, judging from their stubby 'v' shaped tails, all were juveniles, gathering together in preparation for their autumn migration.
Yet, as I write a week later when the swallows here are few and far between, the adults are still feeding newly hatched young which are unlikely to fledge until the end of September. It has obviously been a good year for breeding, but for these very late broods the chances of survival would seem slim.
For them all, the flight is long and the dangers many.
To all those that have left, and to all those that have still to depart
and safe return.