Every year, it is the same. The warblers are long gone, the swallows have just departed, and, as evening falls, the housemartins gather and circle wildly above the house.
Catching insects on the wing, frantically shoring up their nests (as if they knew what winter storms were coming), they chatter, bicker and dot merrily about. Congregating daily on the TV aerial, their activity gathers obvious momentum as the year turns into September. They slip into a sort of behavioural overdrive: performing every aspect of what it means to be a housemartin, being themselves, turned up to eleven.
For a while, they are all there is, each evening.
We, whose summer hearts are lifted by their cheery company, sit below, and marvel at their antics.
“Look at them go,” we say, “just look at them.”
And then they are gone.