Originally published in the Manchester Guardian on 27 April 1917
Reports of the arrival of the swallow are coming in thick and fast from all parts of the district; it is impossible to mention them in detail. A few straggled in earlier, but from the 16th onwards they have been arriving or passing in considerable numbers, and now the long-delayed sand martins are with them. On the 22nd a house martin was seen at Stretford. On the 21st, the cuckoo was calling in Hertforshire; we may expect it here any day. Willow wrens, too reported, but so far only odd bird; chiffchaffs, also very late, are now well distributed. Ring ousels and wheatears are on the moors, where twite, curlew, and golden plover are preparing for domestic duties.
Those who imagine that the course of Continental migration is disturbed or deflected should note a report from an officer at the front in France. On the 16th and 17th he saw scores of swallows and sand martins crossing the devastated land, and on the later date noted a house martin, a few tree pipits, two black redstarts, and three scoter ducks. A flock of linnets “insisted on sitting on a derelict bit of telegraph wire where shells fell continually. They were there day after day.” Even the resident birds are little troubled, for my friend adds: “Odd wrens and dunnocks are still in the flattened villages, and a few blackbirds and mistle thrushes.” Another friend comments upon the coltsfoot peeping out everywhere through the shell-torn ground. Nature’s healing touch!
Source: Guardian Climate Change