Posted by George Morrison

Swallows and Martins         Word on the Week       4th September 2021.

The annual gathering of these birds is in full swing.   They start the day with a magnificent display of flying as they catch insects on the wing.  This food frenzy continues with the birds flying very low in damp rainy weather or higher if the day is dry.  This matches the flight of the insects which they catch in their wide open mouths as they build up their strength for immigration to Africa.

Feeding continues till around 8.30 am when they settle on the electricity wires, and their melodious voices fill the air.   Where they fly to for the remainder of the day remains a mystery but the majority return for their night-time feed in the evening.   From the large number gathered it appears they have had a successful nesting season.   This can amount to two (or even three) families if the weather favours a steady supply of insects.  

Swallows and Martins are difficult to distinguish in flight.    Their speed and twisting and turning patterns are similar.  Most of their life is spent on the wing.  Their legs are short making it hard for them to take off from level ground.    When they are collecting nesting material i.e. mud, they require a clear flightpath to get the beak-full of mud back to the nest site.

This year the bulk of the swallows roosted on some new electricity wires which cross a paddock where a small herd of highland cattle live.   Perhaps they were attracted to the tan hair which could be used to line a nest!   The cattle have an unusual double coat of hair. On the outside is the oily outer hair—the longest of any cattle breed—covering a downy undercoat.

It is because of this hair covering that the meat of Highland cattle tends to be leaner than most beef because Highlands are largely insulated from the cold by their thick, shaggy hair rather than by fat.   The meat is also low in cholesterol.

It is thanks to the wonders of nature that we have such diversity in one small area.   On the other hand, the highland cattle’s horns are not ornaments and, as fallen animals, they could quite easily demonstrate their use!

“In Adam’s fall, we sinned all” the famous line in Benjamin Harris’s New England Primer expresses the basic Christian belief that Adam’s sin had dreadful consequences for the rest of us.   And not only for mankind but also creation which was made subject to futility – horns as weapons would not have been part of the original plan (Romans Chapter 8 verses 20 to 23). The Apostle Paul writes, as a result of our inherited sin comes condemnation, as a result of Christ’s one act of obedience on the cross those who believe in Him will be made righteous (Romans Chapter 5 verses 18 to 19). Choose to follow Christ.