Saturday 10 December 2016

Kevin Myers: I just don't accept the Darwinian law of natural selection as a means of explaining migration

Published 28/09/2011 | 18:00

ON Monday evening, the swallows gathered on the telephone wires. By Tuesday, they were gone, prompting some pretty age-old questions, such as: what will they do when underground optical-fibres and iPhones make telephone wires extinct? Will the swallows dig pits to squat subterraneanly on the fibres? Or will they cluster on children's mobile phones, as the weighty little dears stand outside their schools, ponderously gorging upon a few thousand calories until their mothers drive them home, a massive mile away?

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Never fear: the swallows will find a way. They always do. They left about a week earlier this year than last, after a magnificent breeding summer. I recorded the arrival of them and their cousins, the housemartins, beneath our eaves, in April: both species were more numerous than in any of the thirteen previous springs we have been here.

The summer might have been poor, but the swallows and martins that it brought us did not disappoint. All the promises of spring were fulfilled: by late August, scores, and maybe hundreds of birds were wheeling and spiralling in the evening skies about us, feasting on a banquet of midges.

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