So often something unexpected happens that bring focus to one’s life. In our rushed world most of us do not have time to think about nature, let alone spend enough time enjoying its wonders.

For years now the swallows have been travelling south during the European winter. Some of them tried to build their nest under the balcony of our house at Riverside. This was much to the annoyance of Jane and myself. They do make a mess when they start nesting. Somehow we found a way to deter them in a peaceful manner. They chose the neighbouring house as their nesting venue instead.

For many years now they have returned year after year to their nest high under the thatch patio. They would build and modify and later you would hear the squeals as the little ones were fed by their parents. Later in the afternoon and early evening the sky would be teeming with swallows, swooping around as they hunt little insects. How they miss one another as they scream around only they would know.

Yesterday disaster struck for our swallow friends. Workers at the house next door turned their high powered waterjets on the nests and they were gone in a minute.

The Juvenile Goshawk

Later we found a little chick, too small to fly or fend for itself, next to our house. We placed him in an empty ice-cream bucket, with paper towels around him. He seemed reasonably strong. We knew we had to get him to someone with the knowledge to care for him. With the Juvenile Goshawk around, who have been feasting on crabs and small birds around our house, Swalley would not have survived the night.

We contacted the Spuithoek Crime Watch group and they advised us to contact a lady near Albertinia, some 40 kms away, who take in injured or abandoned animals and birds, rehabilitate them and then letting them go free again.

We knew that Nita Wessels would be the right person to care of Swalley. It was too far for her to collect him. She suggested we contact the Stilbaai Vet who would have some arrangements for transport towards Albertinia and take Swalley to her.

Swalley slept with us in his makeshift nest overnight

So, we kept Swalley warm for the night – even putting a few small snippets of meat in his little ‘nest’ in the hope that he would try them.

Swalley is what they call an ordinary Swallow

This morning he was chipper and cheerful and we dropped him off at the vet. He would be in rehab later today – after getting his first meal at the vet.

Nita Wessels currently has, amongst other animals and birds, an injured owl and a duiker, a small antelope, in her own private little animal shelter. She does not allow visitors but promised she would keep us updated on Swalley’s progress. That to us is what it is really about. She does not look after animals and birds to make money out of it. It is because she really cares.

Somehow we are cross with those workers who destroyed the nest. Yes, nesting swallows are a nuisance. But could they not have waited till after the breeding season when the small ones had left the nest. In mid-summer, destroying their nest was cruel.

I suppose Jane and Fredo also cared in the same way as Nita Wessels, a person we have never met, when we found Swalley. We could just not abandon him and it makes us feel good to have done what we did.

It is the small things that often are the most rewarding.