Swallow nest in an air vent, Saint-Victor-des-Oules, France on 21st June 2021 – by Cicely Fell

“A few weeks ago, my five-year-old daughter spotted two pieces of straw poking through an air vent in our bathroom. She didn’t think much of it until we heard the first chirping. Unable to believe our luck, we tiptoed around the invisible nest like besotted parents, never daring to switch on the light. We spoke only in whispers and exaggerated mimes, for fear of disturbing the baby swallows. Sometimes we would stand beneath the air vent holding our breath, listening to their fluttering behind the wall. After a year of curfews and travel restrictions, the dusty vent became our portal to another world, a strange listening tube, amplifying the murmurs of the wind outside, the chatty bullfrogs or the distant call of a golden oriole. Now the fledglings have gone, but the straw is still there, two tiny blades of hope, a premonition of journeys to come.”