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It is a well-known sign that the first swallow is a sign of spring, but this year things are a little different. For the early birds who have already migrated back from their winter holiday down south, there is little less to catch than a cold, let alone any worms. The UK has been inundated with snow over the past week, but the previous warm period at the start of March has enticed the birds home early.

Ordinarily the early swallow would get the best pick of food and nest sites upon return, beating the others to it. However, this year they will be lucky if they survive this cold spell and the birds who played it safe will come out on top.

This is going to become an increasing problem with recent climate change trends. Not only does climate change induce earlier warming each year, but it also is suggested to increase occurrences of freak weather events. This could have a huge impact on many species around the world but particularly species which rely on seasonal variations for their migration or breeding patterns.

Maybe Aristotle was right after all when he said “one swallow does not a summer make”. Although I doubt his major concern was global warming…

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