…or probably not! But it’s a good story so read on:

I’ve mentioned (once or twice) that I swim, during warmer weather, at an outdoor pool. Lashings of 30+ sunscreen, of course.

This pool is just off the highway and on a busy city road so yes, we get the odd whiff of diesel as big trucks grind down or up through their gears. We also get more than a whiff from the kitchens of at least two burger bars. Early in the morning, when the coffee is fresh-brewed, it’s not too bad. But the burger smells? Let’s just say that this would make a good way to convert the carnivores!

Anyway, once into the stroke/breath rhythm I can usually block the oily pong.

I was trying to improve my backstroke (I have a terrible tendency to go sideways!) when I noticed a pretty blue bird perched on an overhead flag line. Blue? Not a wren. A swallow? what the…swallows are not blue. Well, not that bright turquoise. Not around here.

I stopped at the end of the lane and looked again. Sure enough, they were swallows, flitting across the water, sometimes skimming the surface, and perching on the flag lines. And they were BLUE!

Visions of Audubon accolades! Learned dissertation forming in my mind! Acceptance speeches!

But a good field researcher never leaps to conclusions, right? So I finished my 2 kms, went shopping , had coffee with a friend. And when I got home I grabbed all the bird books and looked for swallows. That narrowed it down a bit since most of our bird books are on raptors, but I did find some swallow entries. And none of them this distinctive blue!

Did I send faxes and emails to universities? No, I did not. And a good thing, too, as I had a closer look at the swallows next day.

Did I mention that the pool is blue? The big shade cover is a deep turquoise? The tiled coping is, yes, blue.  And the Barn Swallow’s breast is a pale creamy shade. And the sunshine very bright!

So no Hirundo rustica dinahii . But you might like to check this link. Just in case I’m wrong. I’ll credit you in my paper!

Barn Swallow, Hirundo rustica (possibly the sub-species, H.r.rustica)

demonstrating correct gripAnd this is moi, demonstrating the correct method of holding a raptor without injury to either party. It’s a very old photo, but I think that’s a juvenile kestrel.

Moving on now from birds (well, clearly, I’m not an expert, so I think I should move on!) to the felines Chez Dinahmow.

I’m sad to report that Rusty is nearing the end of his road. A long and eventful road, it must be said.

He has been with us only a few years, but it seems so much longer. Long-time readers might remember that Josh was still here when Rusty arrived. There was, naturally, a little squaring-off and the odd contre-temps, but they settled  matters amicably and were good friends.

Early in his life, Rusty made the mistake of tackling a whip snake. This cost him some time at the vet’s and his then family a rather large bill. But, despite the odd scratch and the general wear-and-tear of many years, he’s managed to keep his looks.

you called ... “You called?”

Right now, the old boy’s in a sunny patch in the garden, but I’ll bring him indoors soon as I have to go out and he’d be too vulnerable on his own.


  1. Oh damn. So much for the blue swallows. But I love that photo of you holding the kestral and if I ever get a large bird I’ll probably pester you for advice.

    Sorry to hear about Rusty. He looks like a formidable hunter, and the perspective of this photo combined with his beautiful tiger markings makes it look as if you’ve taken his picture from far up in a tree and he is a wild cat on the hunt…


    • m…yes, I really thought I’d found fame at last! 😉 The kestrel was in rehab as it’s illegal to keep them as pets. And yes, in his time, Rusty was something of a tiger.Sadly, I think he’s when I went to fetch him he’d disappeared and I’ve been up and down the street, looking…


  2. Ah – your restraint is commendable.
    My fellow birder (Kev) shows no such hesitation.
    He will report any slightly unusual sighting to the experts who are always kind and patient with him. Even after being patted on the head and told to go away he still doesn’t learn
    I stay well out of it and preserve my integrity.
    Love to Rusty XX


  3. Celia…at first I thought you meant Chester! Charlie certainly was impressive.

    kaz…I knew someone like that up Morecombe Sands way. He once reported a “positive” of an osprey on the beach!
    Thankyou for the love.

    Andrea…thankyou. I still hope we’ll find him before the 30 deg C takes effect!


    • ellen…thankyou. And as for the no gloves – well, I’m so cack-handed with gloves it’s safer this way! I’ve had a few bites and scratches, but nothing serious.It really depends what one has to do – picking up an injured (and grumpy!) bird demands a heavy towel, but if the bird is calm there’s no real danger.


  4. The Blue Bird of Happiness – how wonderful that you saw it just at this time. If Rusty hasn’t come home then I hope he is at peace somewhere, but it’s so sad for you both. He has been a lucky cat to have found a home with you, and you’ve been lucky to have him.


    • carol…thankyou, and yes,perhaps it was serendipitous. *Update Saturday morning*: I’ve just been along the street where a neighbour reported a “bit of a whiffy smell.” But we think it must have been someone’s wheelie bin as the bin man’s been and now there’s no smell!


  5. I think the fact that the blueness of the bird of happiness is in the eye of the beholder is pretty significant. You were very restrained not announcing your discovery right away!


  6. Rusty is so very like Maurice. Thinking of you. They leave such a big hole in lives and hearts these good cats.
    I am trying to hang on to moments with Maurice and not be sad when he gives me some of his time.
    WArm heart to you.
    Love from Jackie and the Pride of Gingers


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