I have two Sycamore trees at my workshop site - one is a youngish tree, with a bent trunk, and the other is a huge old tree, mostly dead, the bare branches being a favourite perch for the Swallows. This week they have both been throwing out the most beautiful buds and unfolding crumpled fresh leaves, along with pendulous, branched clusters of flowers. I've watched them growing.
The Woodland Trust describe them as 'A tree of contradictory perceptions; once loved as a shade tree it now bears the scorn of some countryside organisations that see it as a 'weed' which needs to be removed'.
I know it for its great canopy, as wide as high, giving respite from the sun to sheep and cows at pasture with its huge spiked leaves, and what a climbing tree! I tried to carve a piece of sycamore once, it was hard as oak. However, the wood was commonly used for making toys or kitchen items as it is easily dyed and lacks a sticky resin which some other woods have.
Now at my workshop the younger is where I hang my bird feeders, and the ancient belongs to the Swallows, who I think a caught a glimpse of yesterday. Birds swooping and circling high above, I couldn't make out if they were all Martins, or a group with Swallows joining in. They normally make a very brief appearance like this, and a few days later come back to their perch.