"One swallow does not a summer make..."

April 18, 2012  •  Leave a Comment

One swallow does not a summer make….

This quote is all too oft attributed to Aristotle, but in fact the great philosopher was quoting Aesop (of fable fame) who first coined the notion in his fable “The spendthrift and the swallow” some 250-300 years earlier.

Of course, whether or not Aesop ever existed at all (as a singular man) might well come in for some debate, but because I was brought up on Aesop’s fables (and adored them as a lad), I’d personally like to think he did grace our planet, around 600BC.

I saw my first swallow of 2012 on Tuesday (17th April) whilst driving up to Hatfield for a meeting. This is much later in the year than I normally would expect – often in very early April or even as early as the last day of March a couple of times…

Swallows are pretty little birds, flitting “happily” through the sky and often calling to each other. In the same way that goldfinches invariably remind me of the Mediterranean with their optimistic chattering and flashes of sunshine yellow, swallows too, remind me of warm days in Greece.

However, this first swallow (at Hatfield) was flying low through gun metal skies and skudding clouds – Aesop or Aristotle was quite correct when noting that one swallow does not indicate summer’s here yet.

In fact, April looks very unsettled now (until at least the end of the month) with heavy showers, hail, thunder and blustery winds. Not at all like the last two hot, dry Aprils.


Swallows aside, we’re only a few days away from the traditional date of catching sight of my first swift over this neck of the woods - St.George’s Day (or April 23rd).

Swifts may not be as glamorous as their cousins (the swallows and martins) but they are much more impressive – completely unique in fact.

Some of you reading this post may know that the European Swift is by far my favourite of all bird species – and I’ve taken a week off work from 23rd April to:

a) Try and shake this nasty illness I have presently

b) Go sky-watching for my speedy little avian friends (although I am more likely to be blinded by hail and rainbows this year)

c) Attempt to attract a breeding pair into our attic (though I think this will take a few years).




One swallow might not summer make, but one swift means we’re getting there….




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