When Aristotle wrote “a Swallow doesn’t make the spring” he hadn’t figured on the effects of climate change. A French report by the Birds Protection League (Ligue de protection des oiseaux) has found that migratory birds are arriving many weeks earlier than usual in the Arcachon basin in the south-east of France.
House Martins are 2 to 3 weeks earlier on average and Swallows are now arriving en-masse in February. In the United Kingdom the first Swallow was spotted on the 5th of March last year in West Sussex. In North America migrating artic geese were seen two weeks early and Max the Swiss Stork has been leaving his winter nesting ground earlier each year. This year he started northwards at the end of January.
But are these migrations a portent of global warming? Max may be migrating earlier as he matures. Certainly Max and the artic geese arrived home to find a late winter in full swing. This winter has seen some wild fluctuations in weather. Spring like temperatures in January and February but a return to winter at the start of April with snow down to 400 meters in places. It seems that a few Swallows still don’t make a spring.