It is hard to believe that swallows make the dangerous 12,000 km journey between southern Africa and the UK twice each year. They weigh just 20 g (about the same as a Weetabix) and must cross the airspace of over a dozen countries on their 40-day trip. Many die from starvation, exhaustion and in storms.

While most migrants leave without us noticing, flocks of swallows and martins line up on telegraph wires from late summer preparing for their departure south. Swallows are distinguished from house martins by their red and navy blue throat.

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HIRUNDINIDAE: Hirundo rustica Linnaeus: barn swallow