As spring comes, the weather is warm and it is the time swallow join together again in the end of Phương Mai peninsula, which is normally called Mũi Yến (swallow mount) for the nests. Phương Mai peninsula (Quy Nhơn city, Bình Định) is like a giant dinosaur to prevent the strong wave and wind for Quy Nhơn city. The nature is as beautiful as water-color painting and also endows this land a unique treasure: it is swallow’s nest – a high quality product which has become most popular for its healthy quality to people.
Yến island in Quy Nhơn; Photo: Linh Nhi
Yến island, Quy Nhơn province is a wonderful landscape with caves of ten thousands of years and stone blocks in hundreds of meters in high. The bed of cave is large but full of obstacles and difficult of access, it becomes the best places for swallow to make their nests. In Yến island, there remain 30 small and large caves, mainly located in two villages of Nhơn Hải and Nhơn Lý. Every year, people may collect from 100 to 300 swallow nest in as small cave. For the large caves, especially, the caves with their gates toward the East or Southeast, with cool and airy spaces and the fresh water remaining in the ceiling, the floating waves in the sea, local people may collect fourteen or fifteen thousand nests per years. There are two main types of swallow in Yến island, Quy Nhơn namely yến cỏ and yến sào.
The body of yến cỏ is larger than that of yến sào, and its nest is made by grass or rubbish taken from the mountains. Yến sào is the precious bird. The body of this bird is small but it can fly strongly. It takes the food by flying over the sea. It can fly for ten hours without any stop. Its nest is not made by grass but by its own slaver. Day by day, it pours a little of slaver, stretching it into cord and rolling it into the nest. For a time, the nest is dry and looks like a helix strongly fixed onto the ceiling or cliff. As the nest is large enough for the body, it starts reproducing.
To take the nests in the cliff and cave ceiling, people often use the bamboo-made scaffolds. People can travel in the scaffold as in a bridge. Some caves are in very high position so that people use up to 300 bamboo trees to make scaffold. The pillars are made of four or five trees to reach the ceiling. The way to take the nest is very meticulous. Any nest is far from the reach, people use a stick with a dog-nail on the top to take the nest. In the dry weather, before taking the nests, the local people use water injecting into the nest for softening to avoid breaking the nest.
The breeding season of swallow is January and February of lunar calendar and one month later is suitable time to take the first crop. The second one is when the birdies become strong enough to fly for seeking their food. People may collect a little quantity in the third crop. This time is a mainly creating favorable condition for sallow developing the quantity. Sallow nests are the export article of high economic value in Bình Định province.
Coming to see Yến island, visitors will have opportunity to see the spectacular scenery outside the caves. And upon arrival at the caves, visitors will be surprised at the imposing and gigantic space. In the cliff, amongst water drops there remain the white dots like sparkling stars in the summer sky, they are swallow nests which are inserted one another into long chains. The parent birds are spreading their wings to spread their heat to their children. Sometimes you can hear the sound “chuck chuck” by birdies to ask their parents for the food. The sound from wave, water-dropping, wing-flapping, bird-sound, etc all are mixed together to create a strange sound that bring the visitors to enter a paradise.
Yến island – a landscape where visitors cannot ignore once upon visiting Quy Nhơn – Bình Định.