December 2011  Barn Swallow News 2011
 25 December Its taken 3 years to make it but finally our 6 part Earthflight series is finished and will be on BBC1 from Thursday 29th December 8pm.
For those of you in the USA or abroad then it should be on the BBC Worldwide channel or Discovery Channel some time in the New Year. ( included in this series will be footage shot at the Mount Moreland roost)
From Rob Pilley
25 December

Happy Christmas many swallows in the tower  – by Ali Hirondelles
A message for the protection of life.
Our beautiful valley one of the last green areas, where the tower is installed between Wonck and Eben – Emael. Our valley has changed much in 20 years less of life, birds, bees, trees, flowers …….. In this world of increasingly artificial, happiness is also found in nature and the swallow is the indicator of life it gives us an important message: biodiversity is in serious danger, it disappears everywhere in Belgium, he are simple solutions: make your home a havenBarn Swallow Tower
I promise to make a shelter:
1: I create the conditions for the installation of fauna and flora
Protecting birds and nature ensuring the tranquility of the place, especially during sensitive periods such as during the nesting and extreme cold.
By diversifying and landscaping, according to the surface of my Refuge, supportive environments for wildlife and flora, as a hedge rustic, a pond or a dry stone wall.
By favoring the planting of species that grow naturally in my area, more weather resistant and suitable for local wildlife.
2: I renounce chemical
By adopting a method of ecological management of my Refuge and preferring the technical manual weeding or organic products if intervention is really necessary.
Preferring natural fertilizers (compost, manure nettle, etc..) For demanding plants such as fruit trees or vegetables, promoting associations of plants and auxiliary reducing disease.
3: I reduce my environmental impact Environmental citizens by adopting gestures, including using reasonable resources such as water and recycling my household waste.
4: I do my hunting area without a Refuge for Biodiversity
Me in pledging not to hunt in my Refuge if located in an area where hunting may be exercised.
Life is good, protect nature for future generation, our children, all advice is free: 0475/82/28/86. thank you Ali

24 December Mykines, The Faeroes Island  By Kurt Servé
Thank you for all your help to my articles. I hope you are well? I can see on your log, that the weather hasn’t´t been well. Raining and cold 23.12.
Here are some pictures from my visit on Mykines, The Faeroes Island, which I visited while a great storm was blowing.
Mykines, The Faeroes Island
23 December News of Barn Swallows at other locations

Here are 2 reports of Barn Swallows currently using other roosting sites. It is becoming more apparent that the Barn Swallows are defiantly using a number of Coastal wetlands presently, perhaps because it is slightly warmer there and that the insects have not been obliterated with the cold weather recently experienced as is the case with the reedbeds at Mount Moreland.

Morning Angie

We would like of ask you if you are aware of the mass display of Barn Swallows at the Illovo river mouth.  We have been to your  Mount Moreland site before to watch the swallows and was told about the display at Illovo river that are equally impressive, so last night we went there and was absolutely amazed what we saw, thousands and thousands of swallows descended into the reeds from about 6.15 and final display at about 6.55.

We read your daily log about the reduced number of swallows at Mount Moreland and have been wondering if the flock have moved here.

Kind regards, Linda Mead, Amanzimtoti

_____________________________

I  farm  at  Zinkwazi O n  Wednesday  evening  we  had  a  conservancy  meeting  at  the  picnic  spot  I  have  by  the  vlei  on  the Zinkwazi  river   bank…………..We  were  greeted  by  a  huge  flock  of  barn swallows…………I  mean  a  huge  flock  who  entertained  us  for a  long  while  before  descending  into  the   reeds  to   roost   for   the   night…..I  thought  you  would  be  interested  to   know  of  the  where  abouts  of  these  wonderful   birds

Regards Warren Clewlow

22 December Barn Swallows are still at Santo Tomas, Davao del norte, Philippines – By Ariel Estela
Barn Swallows in the Philippines
 4 December Visit to the Barn Swallow Site by COP17 Reporters – Cop17 visit Swallow viewing siteThe WESSA WWF group brought 2 bus loads of both local and international reporters to come and see how a small community based organization (Lake Victoria Conservancy) was taking the opportunity in creating tourism attractions to wetlands.

I gave a talk to the group and apologized due to the fact the Barn Swallows were not giving their normal display due to the strange weather we were experiencing.

Hi Angie

Thanks again for your impromptu hosting of us and the press on Sunday. Below is a link to what I think is a nice article from the day. It shows how they picked up on and enjoyed the barn swallow story and your anecdotes.

Associated Press story stemming from the press trip on Sunday.

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2011/12/06/international/i013340S59.DTL
regards, Vaughan
Vaughan Koopman
Wetland Ecologist
Mondi Wetlands Programme
Wildlife & Environment Society of South Africa

November 2011
13 November ‘The Return of the Swallows’ event – By Angie Wilken

What started out as a near perfect afternoon with overcast skies had all the makings of a successful event. Spectators began arriving from as early as 3pm. and arrive they did, cars pored into the park and many visitors arrived to witness the opening of the Barn Swallow season. We had visitors from Great Britain, Howick, Kloof, JHB, yellowwood Park, Umkomaas, Blythedale Beach just to mention a few.

At 4.10pm the clouds thickened and rain began to fall, spectators put on rain coats and umbrellas appeared. People stopped arriving and many left due to the weather but then they were those who braved it regardless.

Visibility was poor and binoculars were needed but eventually the Barn Swallows did arrive at 6.15pm and in great number they were. It was a short but satisfying display and the spectators who saw were amazed. It was the worst evening ever for viewing Barn Swallows.
Reports were received that the Barn Swallows prior to displaying were seen in huge numbers on the telephone wires along the road leading out of Mount Moreland. The early spectator leavers created a traffic jam on the way out as all stopped to witness this mass gathering.

It is noted that the Barn Swallows arrival this year is somewhat delayed possibly due to unusual weather, cold snaps and late rainfall.

Thank you to all who came and supported this event

 8 November Photos of Lesser Striped Swallows drink on the wing – See Photos – BY Sharon Basel
Lesser striped swallow
 7 November Barn Swallows in Bulgaria – Read Story – By Patrick Barclay

I saw this website and it’s really great. I actually live in Sofia, but my wife’s parents live on a farmstead near Veliko Turnovo.  
After the icy cold winters it is such a thrill to see the Barn Swallows come back and the nest under the veranda. In fact one can reach out a touch the nests it is so close. I did take some pics but unfortunately they not clear. 
  Anyhow Bulgaria has very cold winters, but the spring and summer are super, a lot of storks nest on church buildings and even homes, people really love them. 
I will try to get better pics of the swallows and send them next time. I am not too clued up with the different varieties but I would love to learn more. 
Barn Swallows in Bulgaria
Once we found a baby hawk with a broken wing just outside our building in Sofia, so we took it and kept it on our veranda for two months and released it near a dam about 20 kms east in the mountains. 
 Last summer when we went to the farm; the Barn Swallows had been nesting inside the house, in the stairway. Problem was Letti’s parents had to leave the door open so they could get in and out. They caused quite a mess and flies and insects came in as well. They were banned from indoors, but it was so funny they sat on the door handle and close-by flapping and complaining the place was closed? 
 
Anyhow they then rebuilt and nested under the veranda’s roof again where they normally nested.   
In the city we also have a lot of Barn Swallows, but it is not  so easy to get close to them as it is on the farm, the swallows are very relaxed and feel safe there. 
 Most people generally love them, and believe they bring good luck, it is just awesome to sit and watch them building, hatching, and being so busy. 
My wife and I are both animal, and bird lovers, we hoping to join a nature club here some time. 
Next season I will try to take some more pics, and I will try to get close ups to see better. 
Last spring we heard a strange sharp screeching sounds from our 11th floor apartment down in the trees? The sounds were all around and we went down to investigate; it was owls. Letti traced the sounds and then spotted them in the trees and buildings, probably dozens and dozens, very rare.  
(Mind you no one ever complains about rats or mice in this part of the city.) 
best regards 
Patrick.
 3 November When Will they Come – By Kurt Servé
Sun has struggled over the horizon. The first heat greets me here this morning in early September. There is a slight haze over the landscape. I can just see Keld’s Cove lighthouse Drude east. A flock of geese coming behind me out of the water. They fly in a wide range of low altitude over the water. A flock of barnacle geese fly over the west. On the way to where?The first birds come in waves from the forest below and disappear over my head. I sit here at the top of the cliff with good views far to the north of Langeland.
And then finally a few swallows. Country Barn Swallows. They hesitate a little but then they continue. Most are drawn south. Perhaps these here from northern Norway. They have already been a while along the way, migrating.Soon all the swallows gone. Fall turns into winter. There is now a long time before we can say: “Then the swallows are arriving, now spring is coming, “But let us turn things upside down. Not so literally, but a little. Somewhere else are they waiting for the Barn Swallows. They are waiting for their spring to come. That they can say “Now the Barn Swallows are here.”Ornithological Society of South Africa asking for years people to report when they see the first barn swallow. Country Valentine has been voted the year’s bird. It happens in a program called: Help us disc skip. I can then just tell them that now most of “our” Barn Swallows will be gone. I have actually done so. I have written to South Africa that they are heading their way. In return, the society down there promised to write to me when the first swallows are seen. That such a sighting be around late October and into November.

Barn Swallow in winter quarters in South Africa “Our swallows’ must pay back about 10.000 km! Ringing has shown that some of our swallows end up in South Africa. You know which routes the Barn Swallows follow to the south. One goes down over Spain to cross the Mediterranean at Gibraltar. One goes over the Alps (where several million in 1974 was stopped by an early winter and died) and down through Italy and across the Mediterranean to North Africa. There has been records of ringed swallows showing that “our” swallows can use both routes. But the same swallow flies probably the same way each year it lives.

So far so good. They have now completed approx. 2500 km. in a straight line. Ahead of him is the harsh conditions of the Sahara. You may cross it without too much hesitation. One of those sudden sandstorms will become death for many of them. Others die of thirst or lack of nourishment. People down there in the desert cities look to the sky. They think enough like us.

When the Sahara is crossed, there are still 4 to 5 thousand km. ahead. A swallow ringed in Nigeria has been genmeldt in Jutland. So some words come this way. Equator crossing. Below is Savannah with elephants and giraffes began to be replaced by rain forest. I wonder if the gorillas in the Democratic Republic of Congo notice the Barn Swallows up there when they fly over. Or what about the residents of Katanga? I wonder if they say: We are heading towards spring. As the data below show ringing records,the Danish Barn Swallows follow this path.

Barn Swallow: The label on 25.09.1998 at Husby Lake, Ulfborg, Jutland by ringing 420 Niels Ulrich
Pedersen. Genmeldt d. 26.09.2001 at Kasaar, Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo.

So there is now “only” passing Angola to reach Namibia and South Africa.

Barn Swallow ringed in Bloemfontein, South Africa 01.03.2003 as 2K + He. Recaptures by Willy Mardal by Kobberø, Vestervig, Thy 26.06.2005.

The long journey is over. Millions of swallows have been on the road from the north. It is estimated that “Over summer” about 100,000,000 Barn Swallows live in South Africa.!

In large flocks for the night. Thousands and thousands – hundreds of thousands. It is not enough. Together with other Barn Swallow migrants they reach up to 3,000,000 in number. Barn Swallows sleeping there at Mount Moreland, KwaZulu Natal, South Africa.  October 2011 Barn Swallow News 2011

22 October Began Barn Swallow duty at Lake Victoria, quite a number of spectators arrived as it was a beautiful day. Swallow numbers about 1 million, excellent display. From now on every evening will be good viewing, beginning to peak 13 November
This seasons Barn Swallow daily log  2011-2012 is now live18 October

The Summer of the South Calls to the Barn Swallows – By Kurt Servé

The first rays of sun appear in the distance. It warms a bit. In the forest below bird voices can be heard. Soon small flocks are ranging up from down there. It’s fascinating each time. This is Eternal River of time. Birds come and birds go – they fly!

I sit here on a late August day on top of Keld’s Nord.  I have been here many times throughout the years. The first year I was very interested in recognizing the voices of the birds that flew overhead. Now it’s more the wonder that happens here every year. It is just to be here. It is just watching and wondering.

So now it sounds a series of pink-pink-pink. A small flock of chaffinches is flying low and disappears into the sea to the south. I follow them with my eyes. No, they give up and come back. It’s not quite dark yet. The sun has now completely left the horizon out there to the east. Nice warmth reaches me. I dig into my backpack, and take out my thermos to have a nice hot drink of tea and a small bag of freshly buttered bread. Imagine sitting here in this great drama with a cup of hot tea and crunchy bread!

I look at the sea again. Away from the east by Keld Nor comes a flock of seabirds. They are fast approaching in a long row. Close to the sea. Its eiders, Black – white birds but they are not on their way south. They just move around among the good mussels.

Pink-pink-pink it sounds again. A flock of chaffinches are coming from the forest. There is a lot of” small birds down there. Many different voices mingle in the choir. Chaffinches are coming close over me and disappear into the slight haze over the sea. They do not come back. A trip to the south has begun.

And then there’s some viddevit, vittevit ..

It’s a flock of barn swallows. They know exactly which way to fly. I can easily see the long forked tails. Some of them have not got such long outer tail feathers. The Ban Swallow chicks from this year say “Goodbye and see you. And hello there. “I shall send a message that you have gone from here” – I say. I wonder where they come from? Have they been breeding on top of Norway or the North Sealand. And where are they going now? That’s how it has happened for millenniums back towards the end of the ice age. Well, we do not think that the barn swallow has immigrated until the Iron Age. Originally it has built its nest on cliffs, in caves and canyons. So not until man made” man-made cliffs” such as houses and Barns were constructed they became regular guests.

In South Africa it is also called the Barn Swallow. For us, the barn swallow has many names – depending on the region they live in and the qualities we gave them. One of these names was funny enough barn swallow. But there were many others: entrance swallow, field swallow, peasant swallow and on the island Drejø they called it the blue swallow.

For some time I have been in contact with the Ornithological Society of South Africa, They have promised me to let me know when the first “announcers of spring” arrive there. Oops! Wasn’t that nonsense? They are announcers of spring here in Denmark! Yes, well that’s what they are! But when they reach South Africa, it is spring down there, and summer waits! It may give you something to think of. The barn swallow is not just our announcer of spring. So it is in South Africa!! Exactly!!

However, the difference is that the Barn Swallow only breeds with us. In South Africa’s the barn swallow is The 2011 bird of the year. They invite everyone to tell when they have seen the very first barn swallows arriving.

It’s just the right day.

One flock of birds after the other comes from the north. Most prefer to migrate above the sea and disappear to the south. Far away lays Femern, Invisible to the birds for a while. But instinct and memory lead them. Yes, for some it must certainly be instinct. The young cuckoos are only starting to travel now. They find their way themselves. It is the same for the Barn Swallow; the first swallows appear in late October or November, while the young ones do not appear until a month later.

 I lay down and stare into the sky. My thoughts walk north. I think of a day in April this year. I arrived in Mykines by helicopter a few days earlier. Now I have fought my way up over the mountain and am on “the high mountains”. It is blowing like hell. But I have made up my mind to get all the way to the north side. From there I shall have a nice view on the West Manna. I would like to make a few sketches there. Then I can paint one of them in the evening. I have made a stop at a steep canyon. I stand at an appropriate distance from the edge. Deep down I can see the sea dashing against the rocks and send large sea sprays into the air. There comes a thundering rumble up through the gorge. In between comes a fulmar flying. I am shaken by some strong gusts of wind. Puh ha. But Hey! What was that? It looked then like a swallow. ..! No it cannot be. I have not seen the Barn Swallows yet at home. “Vitttevit. Vittevit ,it sounds and a barn swallow sweeps close to me. I have flown across the North Atlantic and then by helicopter to Mykines. And what do I see? A barn swallow. What a trip. A new gust of wind forces me to my knees. Puh ha. I have managed to get some sketches and also a special experience.

A couple of weeks later at home I saw the first barn swallow. It was alone here for some days. But then some more arrived. Soon they had built a nest by our neighbors – in the fruit house and garage. Two couples and the result of that were 14 chicks. They each got 5 kids. One set of chicks were ringed. They were: Numbers … 9J82936 – 9J82940

I shall send the numbers to the Ornithological Society of South Africa and inform them that the Barn Swallows have left Denmark. In return they have promised to tell when the first swallows arrived in South Africa. Later I shall write about it in our local paper

The ring numbers are now symbolic. When you ringed about a thousand, just one might be found down there! A Danish-ringing William Glick Aarestrup got 14 of his ringed swallows returned in the fall of the 1974, it was quite unusual. Winter came early that year. Snowstorms swept the Alps. Millions of swallows could not get over the mountains and were weakened everywhere. People managed to collect more than 200,000. They created an “air bridge “Using the airlines, they were transported to the Mediterranean where they were released and the journey could continue. But millions died then.

Some of Williams ringed Barn Swallows which in the summer were caught in Pandora, this proved that Danish swallows in autumn can pull through the migration through the Alps on their journey to Africa’s hot climate. It was not known previously.

Anyway, back to Langeland and present! 

There are still several Barn Swallows from the North Country. They’ve been further up on Langeland. They stay at lakes and ponds, where they sleep in the reeds. If you are lucky you can experience “mass display” when they settle down for the night. So black sun with swallows and not starlings.

In the old days, one also saw Barn Swallows come to the lakes and retire to the reed beds. Next morning they were gone. And they appeared first the next spring. What could the explanation be otherwise than that they winter or hibernate at the bottom of the lakes? “One autumn day the swallows sitting near the shore of a lake or marsh. Suddenly they lie on their backs, flapping their wings, glide along the reeds and sink to the bottom. “Or” They lie dormant in lakes, ponds, bogs, silt or under mounds at the lake, each with a leaf or straw in its beak. They lie on their backs with wings widen out and if you turn them, they die. (People and Fauna)

There is a long journey ahead. For some, about 10,000 km. They fly up to 300 km per day!

And what about food? It is so wisely arranged that flies by day. Instead of flying around and around in an area they have set the course towards the south. Along the way, they seek food and shelter.

I stare back into the air pressing the binoculars to your eyes and what? In the sky is a great, great turn of buzzards. They glide slowly to the south. Constantly hovering wings of buoyancy. It’s an amazing sight. They now have only a short journey ahead. The sun warms now really good. It is approaching noon. There are not many birds anymore. The morning departure is over. Tomorrow starts a new one. If the weather permits!

The summer of the south was published in the Danish News Paper: Fyns Amts Avis. 12.9.2011

10 October Went to Lake Victoria and yes, the Barn Swallows are there but only ± 1500, similar numbers at Froggy Pond, nice show but no where near full mass display. It will take at least 2 weeks for Barn Swallow numbers to increase – Angie Wilken

9 October Barn Swallows have just arrived at Santo Tomas, Davao del norte, Philippines. This is the second time that the swallows flooded in our town, the Barn Swallows first arrival was last year 2010, we don’t know where they came from! They stay there from October until March – See photos – By Ariel Estela

8 October Tonight is the first time I saw the Barn Swallows, wow, my heart raced with excitement. ± 1500 Barn Swallows over my house and Froggy Pond, I must go and check out Lake Victoria. It looks as if the Barn Swallows will be using both reedbeds this season – By Angie Wilken

5 October Skies empty over Mount Moreland, I have yet to see a single Barn Swallow – Angie Wilken

3 October First Barn Swallows arrive at Mount Moreland (5.45pm) reported by Clive Hockly, Mount Moreland resident overlooking the Lake Victoria reedbed, ± flock of a few hundred Barn Swallows spotted descending into Lake Victoria reedbed to roost.
After torrential rain for most of today the news of the first Barn Swallows arriving at Mount Moreland is something to celebrate and is an extremely welcome respite.

3 October Pouring rain for 3 days ( heavy rain and thunder storms) and first news just received (8am) of a flock ± 100’s of Barn Swallows flying around at Zinkwazi Beach and have been doing so for a couple of hours. – By Margo Thiel
Zinkwazi Beach is ± 80 Km North of Mount Moreland, is today the day the Barn Swallows arrive at Mount Moreland? I will keep you posted – Angie Wilken

September 2011 Spring

28 September Zandvlei Trust in the Muizenberg area of Cape Town. We are just seeing the Barn Swallows arriving here – By Peter Kruger28 SeptemberIn the last two weeks, the last of the Barn Swallows have left or are in the process of leaving France – By Marc Piel

23 September Birds killed in Cyprus see http://www.birdlifecyprus.org/ – By Svend Jørgensen

21 September Report back on Spring Alive launch – By Joe Peu, Birdlife South Africa
The Spring Alive project was launched on 3 September at Mt Moreland, one of the largest Blue Swallow roosting places in South Africa. The event was attended by 50 people, 12 of whom were local community members. The rest of the attendees were from two schools from around Mt Moreland. Angie Wilken, the local Mt Moreland and Barn Swallow ambassador in the area, spoke about the Barn Swallow and the area. Joe Peu spoke about National Bird Week and introduced the Spring Alive website to the attendees. The day was ended with a migration game which the learners enjoyed very much.The same event was held at Chrissiesmeer on 7 September with 23 learners from Lakes Chrissies High School attending. The event was also attended by Barbi Forsyth from the Witwatersrand Bird Club, a representative from EWT and the members of the local ANC Youth League. There were also meeting to (1) discuss recruiting new members of the community for the upholstery project, and (2) plan for the environmental rights workshop (on 16 September) and biodiversity monitoring workshop (17 September). The group was then taken on a tour of the Kwachibikhulu Community Development Centre. In reciprocation, these community youth leaders joined the team during the afternoon at Boetsepan for the Bird of the Year launch event. This event was attended by 24 Grade 8 and 9 learners and their teacher from Lake Chrissie High School. Joe Peu did a fantastic job motivating, enthusing and educating the children, and a fun time in the sun was had by all. Afterwards, Ursula Franke (EWT) taught us how to do power line collision and electrocution monitoring, in preparation for the Chrissiesmeer biodiversity monitoring workshop.The Wakkerstroom event was attended by the local Income Generation Group members, many of whom are elderly. The week’s activities ended with an event with Gauteng Alliance learners at Suikerbosrand Nature Reserve on 9 September. The learners came from Monde, Reahile, Dawn Park and Skeen primary schools.

Community members are encouraged to visit Spring Alive website to register their 1st sightings of Barn Swallow, swifts, cuckoo, European Bee-eater and the White Stock. There are also exciting inter activities games for children and also adult.

20 September Barn Swallows have left Scotland – By Kate Foster

17 September  Last family of Barn Swallows in Wales – By Peter John

Three new Barn Swallow babies return early today from very bad weather, making their way to rear of the little barn and new perch area put up last year 2010 after the Barn Swallows left. They seem to like it there!

The remaining two swallow babies from a second brood tonight have left and are on their way to you. Only two adults left now plus their three babies.  Barn Swallow Parents took them out flying from early morning to late evening. This is a bit unusual for birds so young, must be giving them advanced training to get them fit and strong with this crash course to make it down under. Swallows do seem to understand variable tactics to suit the situation and know time is against them.

26 September 2011

Message to let you know all my swallows in the little barn have finally departed tonight. Some were in last night  25th September, and must have thought that they had been here long enough with the overcast weather for months. Someone must tell them to turn around as we have a heat wave with warm air from the Mediterranean. At last some sunshine!
Well, hope they all make it safely on that long haul to S/A. Naturally shall really miss them, but at last can enter the barn and start the clean up after around 39 little ones born in side this year. 

Now it’s your turn to worry about them and keep them safe in their new home. Probably will see some swallows still here well into October from other areas and flight path from Ireland. They do rest for the night at various farms etc. Even had one come into the kitchen last year late at night. Spent the night in the barn in safety. Found his group a  few days later. Must have felt safe in the barn as he or she returned for two nights.

 

28 September 2011
There are plentiful of swallows still around enjoying maybe the sudden heat wave we are having. First good weather since last April. Most swallows left last year on the 2nd of October. This year with good weather could be a week or so later. Mine have gone as mentioned, giving me the chance today to wash all the walls of swallows mess. Bad this year, but never had thirty nine babies before  in small area. May have more in next year as Barn Swallow nesting sites are closing down rapidly with present times and people selling outbuildings to have a few pounds extra.
To be realistic not many people care about wildlife only the minority it seems the way things are these days. Sales of peanuts are borderline the price of them now, and we supposed to be the best in the world for protecting our precious birds. They say the British are soft, be like Spain and France who consider dogs and birds of little importance. I wonder  if our bird protection society are on the look out in France this season to monitor the killing fields of resting swallows on wires with camouflage sick humans hiding in the bushes ready to kill  them  with air guns in the name of, IT’S OUR SPORT. At least Spain is starting to grow up with banning bullfighting, like we had to, with cruel fox hunting with packs of dogs.

15 September Barn Swallows live in style in new outbuilding in Stareton, Warwickshire, England – By Don McGillivray
There is a population of about 20 Barn Swallows that live in my neighbour’s barns, and in an outbuilding I erected this year.  2 pairs of Barn Swallows moved in and built nests before I could put the doors on.  I did eventually get the doors on but when I went to close them the swallows went crazy – I have left the doors open all spring and summer!I keep looking at the nests (from a safe distance) but have not seen any chicks.  However the birds have sat on the nests, and have been flying in and out continuously, so I guess there must be chicks.I’m watching the birds each day to see if there is any sign of them leaving, but they are still flying around here, as normal.  There are still plenty of insects.
The Barn Swallows have been such a pleasure to have around, and so tolerant of me.  They fly within feet of me – They obviously realize I am no threat.

Barn Swallows live in the outbuilding next to the house and gateway in the hedge shows a meadow next door to me, where the swallows mostly feed.

Well, I guess they will leave soon, and will arrive with you in Africa. Look after them!

14 September We were awoken early this morning (3.30am) by an almighty thunder storm and the first rain fall of spring which we welcome and so desperately need. – Angie Wilken13 September

Barn Swallows the last ready to go – By Peter John

Lots of Barn Swallows now perched on cables every where one looks. These are possibly the Barn Swallows from the fledglings from my barn, they still fly in and out of the barn a few times. Strong westerly winds to carry them far away. Still quite a lot of Barn Swallows around.

Last Barn Swallow babies this year. third brood out from nest today, but not venturing out of barn, maybe tomorrow

Blobby ( deformed Barn Swallow)  out and about far as I know. Last time I saw him the patch looked as if it was turning white. See Barn Swallow on right.

Seems to be out a little more now if he is still alive, as the barn is mostly empty now apart from the last three young Barn Swallows and their parents feeding them. All come home around 7.30pm for the night. Counted around twelve Barn Swallows last night not including the three new babies.

 All the swallows on the electric cables yesterday are well on their way, none were seen today. Free ride for them on the strong westerly winds. They say Barn Swallows don’t like too strong a wind as they can’t maneuver in flight correctly with their wings.
Weather improved here today which is good for new Barn Swallow babies although still not taking the plunge out yet. Heat brings about the insects and flies which they eat to build them up. Be another three weeks or more before they think of going south. Parents will leave them once they start feeding themselves. Poor little things hardly no time left to fly so far away to your  beautiful landscape. 
One just to show what I think is a good camouflage with colours with two of the three Barn Swallow babies just before flying out, of the now over worked nest.  This third brood are still in the barn today and not flown out yet. Some more Barn Swallow babies, not out of their nests yet just along the road from me in another little barn. Been a very good year for amount of swallows in this area.

13 September Barn Swallows publication from Japan – By Koyama Kazuo
My name is Koyama Kazuo and I am a bird researcher in Japan.
I am currently writing a book about the barn swallows, I will send you a copy of the book when it is out, probably early next year. The book is in Japanese but it is full of Barn Swallow photographs which you can enjoy.
Thank you for the photo for inclusion. Koyama

12 September Our Barn Swallows have left Finland – By Risto Jäntti
Now it is already clear that the last of our Barn Swallows left last Saturday, September 10. In the afternoon the Barn Swallows were still swallows flying in the yard but since then there has been no sign of our swallows. I am both sad and relieved at the same time. Sad because having enjoyed them for four months and three days they have now gone and there is a long wait of eight months without Barn Swallows ahead. The barn and the yard are so silent. I know I will still be watching into the sky in hopes of seeing Barn Swallows. Relieved because it was already high time for them to leave: although the weather has been until now warmer than normally at this time of year, it is now getting rainy and colder. It is still possible to see migrating Barn Swallow flocks like those swallows I saw yesterday evening. There were about 20 birds coming from the north just before sunset, circling for 15 minutes low over our yard and then disappearing, most likely to roost in the reed bed 800 m away.16 September
Yesterday, September 15, in the afternoon I saw still 5 migrating Barn Swallows flying over our yard and heading  south.  That happened between strong showers, when the sun shined for a short moment.  They must have been the very last of the last Barn Swallows escaping the autumn coldness soon arriving here.   Today the weather was sunny and relatively warm but there was not one single Barn Swallow in the sky.  Is it not amazing that at the same time as the first Barn Swallows have already reached South Africa, the last ones are still here in Middle Finland on their journey south!

9 September News from Italy about the Barn Swallows – Lamberti Marco

I have seen your web site and it’s very beautiful and fantastic that you do so much for the Barn Swallows. 
I started to become interested in the Barn Swallows some time ago, when I was a child there was a big population of barn swallows in our country (now I am 39 years old) and now the Barn Swallow population is not so plentiful. 
But in my town I contribute to a project with people of like minds to protect the Barn Swallow population in our town. 
 I’m writing from Italy, I know there’s a lot of Swallow that stay in Ebbaken (Nigeria) during the winter but, your work is very important for me and news of your Barn Swallow roost is encouraging. 
 In this year I discovered a lot of Barn Swallow nests at the home of a farmer (I think about 50 Barn Swallows in total), this is good news because in all of Europe, North of Italy mostly, we have seen a decrease in Barn Swallow numbers of 40% over the past ten years…. 
 Last Saturday and today I have seen about 20 Barn Swallows I think ready to leave. 
 Lamberti Marco 
Piumazzo (MO) Italy

6 September Barn Swallows migration display, Finland – By Risto Jäntti

Early yesterday morning I was standing on the front door stairs to see if there were Barn Swallows in the yard.   There was a flock of about 20 Barn Swallows flying quite high over the yard and then they disappeared.  I already thought those were our swallows and now they had left for the south.  I went to the barn and saw there still chicks sitting on roof beams, meaning the Barn Swallows over the yard were from elsewhere.  Later that Sunday, completely out of the blue, another flock of migrating Barn Swallows, over 100 birds, appeared over the yard.  These Barn Swallows were in no hurry, they stayed for the whole day in the yard.  Mostly they flew around over the yard and between the house and the cow house.  Every now and then they landed on the roofs to rest.  It was such an unbelievable sight and I enjoyed every moment of it.  The yard was teeming with Barn Swallows, most of them fledgling heading south for the first time in their life.  In my mind I was playing with the romantic thought that maybe many of them were our swallows that had come to say goodbye to us before leaving.
Today there was no sign of those swallows anywhere, they had continued their flight south, but the show they gave is a display that will never be forgotten.
There are now only 4 Barn Swallow chicks and their parents left and it is only a matter of days when also they will be gone on their journey South.
Regards
Risto

1 September Barn Swallows depleted in numbers, Wales – By Peter John

Around 8.45 pm. What is interesting is the little hide outs they choose to perch. I like the one up high on the hazel cane with the tin roof just above him. Some more near wall nest, but lots down at rear of barn out of sight. 5 in view

 I see the Barn Swallow babies regularly with their head tucked underneath their wing fast asleep. Don’t think they like the light from electric bulbs shining directly near perching areas. Picture indicates this with Barn Swallow head in the shadows.
Will let you know if the barn empties this week of Barn Swallows apart  from the breeding pair with their third brood. Still around five young Barn Swallows in tonight but the small barn seems empty from the masses that have been inside it of late. On a quick count I would say about forty new babies were born inside the barn this year, counting maybe four or five still in nest 1 on the top shelf. If you see the size of the den you wouldn’t believe it! So suddenly I feel at a bit of a loss tonight, cause I wonder if they are safe and out of danger on that long flight home to you.

August 2011 Barn Swallow News 201129 August

Last Barn Swallows about to fledge – Finland – By Risto Jäntti

Today I saw some of the Barn Swallow chicks in the very last Barn Swallow nest leaving their nest for the first time.  So far they did not fly yet, but that moment is near.  They already flap with their wings sitting at the edge of their nest ready to fledge.  Most of our Barn Swallows have already left for the south, just some Barn Swallow couples with their chicks are still here and all too soon they will be leaving.  The remaining House Martins left today, yesterday they were still here but this evening none of them returned to their nests meaning they have started their long flight to Africa.  
Luckily, the weather has been warm, over 20 deg C to ensure plenty of food for the Barn Swallows and their fledglings.  Next week will be a bit cooler with rain: autumn will soon be here.
Regards Risto

28 August Barn Swallows leave Denmark – See Story – By Svend Jørgensen25 August

Beautiful Barn Swallows nest on a stone ledge – By Peter John

I noticed another beautiful swallows nest on a stone ledge near the wall nest. Egg shells on the floor below, so it might explain the crowded barn this year of Barn Swallow babies. No camera anywhere near this nest so unaware what they been up to. The Barn Swallows were very considerate where they built it, incorporating some of my electrical cables that operate machinery, portable machine tools are now permanent position tools. I’ll have to buy new ones as no way would I dislodge cleverly built new nest.

How could anyone miss this new nest in the barn. I did ?  Been well used by mess of droppings under the nest. Wonder how many Barn Swallow babies were in this one?
Cleaver these Barn Swallows, can virtually build a nest in three days if they want to.

Pleased with this Barn Swallow nest as it is low to floor and shows how trusting these birds have become. Had a Barn Swallow pair years ago and I used to shut down the power supply for the barn with a big switch right by a nest. They never took any notice of me each night closing door and knocking the switch off. Waited for me to open the door again every morning, before I thought of making a hatch cutout in the old door. Still used to this day.

21 August Signs of Spring Evident at Mount Moreland – By Angie Wilken

So much rain has fallen recently that the Mdloti River, next to Mount Moreland has swollen considerably and a fast, yet steady flow of water is a welcome sight. Spring has defiantly arrived slightly early this year!

Yellow billed kites were spotted over and around Mount Moreland from Wednesday 17 August, the first sightings of the migratory birds arriving are evident signs of spring.

The very next evening (Thursday 18 August) the surrounding wetlands and river valley broke forth with a frog chorus of note this sound is always so exciting and what we refer to as our spring wake up call.

Friday 19 August I sighted four lesser striped swallows whilst driving at La Lucia, we have yet to see these arrive at Mount Moreland, maybe in the next few days they will show up and take up residency in some of the eaves of Mount Moreland homes.

This morning, Sunday 21 August I saw 2 White Throated Swallows perched on a wire near the entrance to the Mount Moreland village, what a thrill to see these little travelers arriving once again, pity I didn’t have my camera on hand.

The wetlands are both looking good for the forth coming arrival of the Barn Swallows – expected arrival mid October.

18 August Birdlife to launch Barn Swallows Spring Alive Campaign – By Joe Peu, Birdlife

17 August Life in a Barn Swallows Nest – See Video – By Svend Jørgensen

13 August Barn Swallows feed their chicks  – By Svend Jørgensen

11 August Pre-migration signs evident in Finland – By Risto Jäntti
A few days ago I saw the first swallow flock of Barn Swallows gathering on a telephone cable near our house.  The birds were Barn Swallows and House Martins, around 100 Barn Swallows.  Having flown about over the field that noisy and nervous flock disappeared.  Most of our swallows have left, only those Barn Swallows still having chicks in their nests are here: 6 Barn Swallow and 4 House Martin pairs.  The House Martin chicks will soon be ready to leave their nests, also the chicks in 4 Barn Swallow nests.  One Barn Swallow nest has one week old chicks and the last one newly hatched chicks.

The weather recently has been nearly normal for this time of the year: from less than 10 deg at night to over 20 deg C in the daytime.  Two nights last week were cold: only 4 deg C.  It has been raining practically every day.  In Northern Finland there has been night-frost already several times.  The feeling of autumn is already in the air over here…        
 These are the last weeks the swallows are here to be enjoyed and it feels already sad.
 Regards Risto

10 August Second brood of Barn Swallows now open their eyes – See Photo – By Svend Jørgensen9 August

Deformed Barn Swallow – By Peter John

Looks to me like the body feathers have grown into beak area. They are dark brown in colour from the normal chestnut

Had  a chance today seeing all the Barn Swallows out and about in the glorious sunshine to investigate in the barn. Felt in nest one on the top shelf -full of eggs. Wall nest just new feathers placed. Nest two, one cold egg. Could be from second brood that didn’t hatch. I will check again sometime. Another large nest under construction in my little so call office within the barn. No eggs in it. The Barn Swallows might be making it in preparation for next year, unless they are thinking about staying the winter in it.

Took advantage of seeing lone Barn Swallow with growth attached  to it, so took a quick picture which might be clearer that previous one sent. Zoom in on it and see for your self how this little baby is somehow surviving. Very rarely goes out of barn with other Barn Swallow babies.

Last night noticed that the Barn Swallows – normally multitudes of them, ceased in numbers in the barn. Some people are noticing swallows gathering on electric cables ready for departure.  I have seen this too. If parents are finished with feeding second broods they will make the decision to head south. Don’t think my ones apart from the one on eggs third brood will be venturing for another brood. It’s to late really to have such. My pair won’t be getting away until early October. I think they will all leave early this year and bet they understand the weather forecast better than we do. Still have lots of babies in the little barn, but as mentioned some not on their usual perches last night. I am wondering how the not well baby will do, leave with his or her mates or hang on longer. Seems to prefer it in the barn than being out. Could be weak and not strong like the rest of them.

7 August Barn Swallow fledglings out and about – By Peter John
Barn Swallow nest under construction just below to the left of the wall nest. Barn Swallows started sticking mud to the wall. I must have roughly over twenty swallows with parents at night in the little barn. The Barn Swallows must like it there as some of the first broods are still hanging on

.6 August Barn Swallows second brood getting bigger – See photo – By Svend Jørgensen

2 August Barn Swallows fly in old barn, Denmark – See Video – By Svend Jørgensen1 August

Update on Barn Swallows in Wales – By Peter John

Cheeky Barn Swallow this one waiting for me to open door for him to go in my outhouse for the night. It has been raining so I closed the door, but this lone Barn Swallow decided to come back early to settle for the night. He finds his way out in the early morning, and must think it’s a one way street, as he cant find his way back to the window it leaves by. Must be a posh Barn Swallow and enters by the front door and not the servants entrance around the back.

How is your eyesight Angie, last picture of Barn Swallow babies in the wall nest, another brood of six Chicks. Have  a count yourself, see if I’m right.  They will definitely be out of this nest Sunday July 31st. 2011 If she has third brood it will make a total of eighteen Barn Swallow babies this year. Hope they all survive.

This photo is rare. Not from a  video, it was luckily captured only a few moments ago of the mother Barn Swallow from the wall nest leaving nest after just feeding some of her six babies. This will probably be the last photo of second brood in their nest, as they have been widely and immensely exercising their wings today, making ready and preparing to get out of this overcrowded nest. I was hastily looking for my wood sander and as usual was in the swallow barn when I needed it, so as camera was handy on the bench I thought, right, now I’m in here, hard lines you lot are going to have your picture taken like it or not.

This picture is the first of Barn Swallow babies in nest 2 on the wooden shelf. You might be thinking where are they? me two but these are not very old, so a glimpse of anything in this nest out of view of the CCTV cameras is something. These are the Barn Swallow babies, and if she has a third brood, those I love the most. They will be the sad late October ones to leave with dark nights and mostly cold days with parents already departed. That time of year I have a little light on in the barn that helps them for any stray insects like moths heading for the light, unfortunate for mothy but some food for the swallows is better than nothing. Night, black and white camera viewing rear of barn where they cuddle together on a piece of bamboo cane to keep warm. It’s sad to see the weakest left on it’s own when rest of the brood think it’s time to go. Little one then leaves and the barn is deserted and quiet from all the chattering and life of the swallows.
Added note, I feel sad until I look around the barn and think. Hell it will take me until Christmas to clean up this mess they have left me with. But do you know what. The smell distasteful to some people gives me the feeling and memories of thankfully what a beautiful year it has been, Pray nature will be kind to them and please avoid the scientist, what ever name they adopt to cover-up their cruel  activities, ringing innocent little birds for their self ego, and probably getting paid for such.

July 2011 Barn Swallow News 2011

25 July Second Brood of 5 Barn Swallows– By Peter John
All five babies now back in first nest on the top shelf after been out doing aero flying exercises for most of the day. They always get back into the nest late in the afternoon as they know that’s where their parents will find them and feed babies. They were flying in the barn yesterday and ventured out again today. Wall nest babies catching up fast. Not all showing in picture. These are all second brood.

23 July New Barn Swallow Chicks in Finland – By Risto Jäntti

Yesterday (July 22) I found on the lawn the first barn swallow eggshell since the squirrel´s destructive visits.  The eggshell looked like it is supposed to look, a neat eggshell half that is quite clean inside.  That tells that the hatching was normal.  Having found that eggshell I went into the barn and immediately knew from the barn swallows´ behaviour which nest had new chicks: a swallow landed on a nest, bent over it and started calling very softly.  There is another call that resembles that new-chicks call: it is used by the swallow parents when they encourage their newly fledged chicks outdoors, but it is a bit stronger.  I am so relieved knowing that the swallows´ trials to nest again are bearing fruit!
 
The weather has been very warm, even hot: almost 30 deg centigrade with high air humidity that makes the weather almost unbearable for me.  Plunging into the lake does not help much because also the water is warm.  Having risen from the water you will soon start sweating again.  The weekend will be a bit cooler but then the temperature will start rising again.  Well, in January one does not need to sweat because of the heat outdoors (sometimes because of the heat indoors if the wood-heated traditional baking oven has been often used)…
 
This time of summer is so wonderful due to the abundance of swallows: Barn Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins and sometimes even Swifts (the Tar Swallow in Finnish) fly with their chicks filling the air and constantly calling each other.  I do not know where the Sand Martins are nesting but they appear every July over our yard.
 Regards Risto

20 July Barn Swallow Parents take a break – By Peter JohnBarn Swallows in Wales
Thought you might like to see this photo taken today of wall nest, with  parents perched below nest having a quick break from  the continuous rain we have had for the last few days. There are six young Barn Swallows again in this nest – second brood. A week behind five or six babies on the shelf nest, but a week in advance of babies in second nest on shelf.16 July

About to fledge Barn Swallows – By Risto Jäntti

The first Barn Swallow chicks are about to fledge.  Today the chicks in two nests left their nests for the first time.  They were sitting on beams near their nests and to reach there they must have flown a bit.  They will still return to their nests from their “exploring expeditions”.
I have already noticed several new broods of those swallow pairs whose nests were robbed by the squirrel.  That swallow pair whose chicks died when the nest fell down onto the barn floor, are building a new nest some 10 cm sideways from the original nest location!  There are also two old nests near the new one and it seems difficult for the swallows to decide which nest to choose, because they go and sit in every one of those nests.
Although this Barn Swallow nesting season is the worst ever due to the squirrel, our House Martins´ nesting has been the best ever.  Almost all of those 15 cement-and-sawdust nests are active and there are also several natural nests of those very sympathetic swallows.  Today I saw how several House Martin pairs were flying their chicks for the first time this nesting season.  It was so touching to watch how the chicks were flying behind their parents, frantically beating the air with their little wings, making even the same curves as the parents and calling them constantly.  That is without doubt one of the best sights of the summer for me.
Enjoying the swallows
Regards Risto

15 July Blacksmith’s Barn Swallows – By Peter John

Today I traveled to a farm where a skilled engineer blacksmith runs his farm plus most interesting workshop. He showed me the unusual places within these premises that Barn Swallows have chosen to build their nests. They have the whole farm buildings spoilt for choice, but no they wanna be where you are.

14 July Six Barn Swallow Chicks! – See Video – By Svend Jørgensen13 July

Barn Swallow dead but now alive – By Peter John

What I am writing about is to mention to you regarding that poor tin shed  Barn Swallow baby. Now I have been noting dates when eggs were first in the nest, and when the little baby appeared dead.  Then I gently replaced it back in the nest, not to upset parents, and they if possible could remove it. Some days passed when I checked the nest again to perhaps remove the little one if nest was infested with flies etc, usually the case. To my surprise the baby was although motionless still warm. I left it until today, and when passing the shed with Sian (dog)  for walks, I noticed lots of swallow dropping below the nest. Parents don’t usually make any mess at the nesting area and mostly remove all the waste from babies in a nest.
 So out of curiosity I put my hand up to the low built nest to have a touch inside. With that movement a swallow flew off it making for freedom in the blue skies above. Felt in the nest, now empty. I have a strange feeling that baby could have survived. If it was the baby it was a dam good actor playing dead when I had it in my hand previously. I have come across this with other birds when very frightened and consequently one would leave them be so to speak. Not 100% sure about this baby, but the dates recorded suggest it was now able to fly. 
Reminds me of the sad story read on your web page of the fallen nest. Could any of those babies have been still alive. ?
Best if possible to put the nest back with support where it fell from. Care to be taken not to injure yourself. 
I will let you know if tin shed Barn Swallows lay eggs again at this place shortly.

11 July Barn Swallows at the builders yard at the railway – By Peter John
Barn Swallows have taken over the local builders big tin shed. The owners of the business are very kind to the Barn Swallows nesting inside the premises, allowing them freedom amongst the vast trading stock inside building.8 July

Barn Swallow nest fails and falls, Finland – By Risto Jäntti

As far as I know, the squirrel has stayed away, but yesterday something very sad happened.  When we returned from shopping, I went to the barn and everything was all right.  After an hour or so I went again to the barn to watch the Barn Swallows feed their chicks and what I saw saddened me deeply: on the concrete floor was a nest crushed that had fallen down from the vertical part of a beam and all the 5 Barn Swallow chicks were dead in the remnants of the nest.  The parents helplessly tried to find their nest that was not there anymore.  There was no sign of a predator involvement and if there was, I would have heard it but everything was calm and normal at the time when the nest was destroyed.  I assume the swallow pair will try again because it is warm now and there is still enough time for a new brood.  Actually, many pairs start their second brood even weeks later and their chicks have a good chance to fledge.
Luckily, Barn Swallow nests fall down in the middle of nesting very seldom, one nest maybe in 10 years.  I have been planning with Janne support constructions for nests but so far nothing has materialized.
Half of the Barn Swallow season is already over.  Hopefully the Barn Swallows will have better luck in those remaining two months.
Risto

7 July Where do the Barn Swallows go after Fledging? – By Peter John

Question: Are your other Barn Swallows breeding again? And once the other Barn Swallows are out of the nest is that it? They are out? Do they roost close to the nest ?

  Answer: normally the first brood are sent on their way once they can feed themselves. This could be a week or more. Parents then start the second brood which mine have now and already have babies in all three nests. Strange the wall nest babies are reluctant to leave the barn, but gradually in ones and twos they are not returning now.
The theory is these babies are taken to a safe house or area. As mentioned in the past, where that is I will never know. No person has ever informed me that a lot more swallows are now suddenly residing at their premises. Don’t know where they go? Sometimes babies will come back into barn late in the evenings and get mostly chased out again by the parents.
At the end of the season loads of young swallows congregate flying into the barn all chirping happily. I always think that they have come to say goodbye. Last year the third brood of babies stayed in the barn well after the parents left. These youngsters born late eventually left in twos  and threes. That was well into October. I Looked at the young and wondered if they would make it all alone by themselves with the main migration already flown.
I am anticipating three broods this year again as there is still time. Can’t figure out my little friend that comes into my other out building every night right on time to the minute, then I close the door and won’t see it again until tomorrow night. Perhaps this is the safe house Barn Swallow and has chosen to be in for the rest of the season.
As we know they only mate after their trip to South Africa then back to Europe to start having their own babies. I must have the same group back as last year with the two males and three wife’s. Swallows born here will always return to the same area each year if they make it. Within half a mile some say. Lucky they will be these days to find suitable nesting sites. But home is home, and I bet those tin shed swallows will try again either this year or next in the same place.
Young Fledglings help feed new Barn Swallow babies 
I have read reviews in the past that first brood babies return to nest to help feed second brood young. I really didn’t believe this quotation as I have never seen such. To my surprise, yes, this is now taking place with my wall nest barn swallow babies. Three  of  the first brood are back feeding the new babies in the wall nest and staying along side the nest at night. Five barn swallows are at this nesting spot over overnight. They left the nest site a few weeks ago. One did hang on bit longer than usual. Babies depart according to their maturity, the weakest stay for a couple of days longer with their parents.

 

5 July Barn Swallows in Lough Arrow in the Northwest of Ireland – By Craig Robinson
first Swallows arrived 10th April 2011 in the mid afternoon, initially just a lone pair but by early evening there were 12. Significant numbers were here the following day.
Not sure when nest building began but if you trawl through our Facebook page I comment about having to abandon our laundry room. Last year a pair tried to nest in it, we discouraged them by stapling old pillow cases to the ceiling, this year they returned but the pillow stunt didn’t fool them. This all happened about a week after nesting started in our outside sheds. These chicks hatched around the 16th June and left the nest 2 days ago. In total we have at least 40 nesting pairs on the property. We are located on the shore of Lough Arrow in the Northwest of Ireland. At this stage the young are all out of the nests and seem to spend the day in “flight school” with the parents returning to the nest site (roost close to but not in the nest) in early evening some 2 hours or so before nightfall.

3 July Barn Swallows in Denmark fledged – Svend Jørgensen

2 July Barn Swallows in tin shed – By Peter John

The Barn Swallows all two and a half pairs are now on eggs due to hatch second brood. —still two males  three females 
as i quoted in the past, each year is so different with behaviour with the Barn swallows in the barn. This years first brood from the wall nest are still at night clambered around the small nest, even one tucked up with the mother at night in the nest. The babies should have left long ago. The other babies from the two shelf nests have departed. My little friend another barn swallow from somewhere still spends the night in my other outhouse amongst the computers etc. He or she comes in around 9.30pm so I have to leave the door ajar sometimes letting the rain poor in. It can exit in the mornings through a small rear window, but it hasn’t entered by this route 
  Another swallows nest across the road from me in a little tin shed that over the years  just been so sad with pair of swallows nesting in such terrible conditions. 
 Sun directly over tin roof and wild cats from owner that been  abandoned,  now roaming everywhere. Well I  checked the nest about a month ago and two to three eggs inside, warm. Felt inside nest on another occasion, now with one egg left stone cold. Few days ago found one very small baby inside, and thought it was dead, but its little claws gripped my fingers tightly when moving it gently within the nest. One very soft shell egg also in the nest. Will have another look this weekend to see the progress.   
Angie this is that last resort tin shed some swallows have to make do with through lack of suitable nesting sights. They rarely succeed at this location due to mainly cats waiting for babies to leave nest with no perches for them to settle on when learning to fly for the first time, and returning to site  Picture shows scene approaching tin shed and another shows my hand with only  cold egg left in nest. Some indication of little nest close to tin roof where it cooks in hot weather. Very strange a live baby is now in the nest. In the past I have felt cold eggs at my place, and thought parents had given up with them for one reason or another, but have pulled through this period with mother deciding to start incubation. Anyway some insight on various places our little friends seek out. Sad they under go all that epic journey  to end up  in that shed.
5-07-2011 had a peep how little swallow was coping with the heat wave last weekend in the tin shed, and sadly no longer with us. Just about see nest grass hanging down where position of nest lies. Baked in the midday sun. Bird still very hot but motionless.

June 2011

29 June Barn Swallow chicks in Denmark – See Photos – By Svend Jørgensen

27 June Ireland – Barn swallows fledging see live on web cam – By Ann Gunning
http://www.rte.ie/radio/mooneygoeswild/features/mooneycam/swallow_nest cam_aras.html

26 June Finland – there are signs of first swallow chicks having hatched: parents bend over their nest and call extremely softly and tenderly. According to my observations they use that call only in that situation. – By Risto Jäntti15 June

Finland Barn Swallow Incubating – By Risto Jäntti

The weather changed yesterday quickly: still the day before yesterday we had 28 deg which is considered hot and so it felt.  That hot weather lasted almost a week and at times it felt so unbearable that I just couldn’t stay in the sunshine, because I wasn’t´t feeling well in the heat (of course all Finns aren’t that heat-sensitive).  But yesterday cold air from Northern Finland reached us and now the temperature is just 10 deg + rain and thunderstorm.   
Contrary to my expectations it seems this Barn Swallow season will be at least as good as the previous one, if not even better, on the condition that everything goes well of course.  So far I have been able to confirm 13 active first-brood nests and there are still a few nests I´m not sure about.  The atmosphere in the barn has cooled down considerably, but there are still occasional chases when a swallow from another nest comes too near.  The Barn Swallows do not necessarily need a lot of space for the nesting, the shortest distance between two active nests in our barn has been one meter.  This year there are several nests with the distance of a couple of meters between them.  The Barn Swallows are now incubating. 
 A Common Gull pair are nesting again this year in the very same tree in the same nest as last summer near our house.  They must be the same birds.  Because I don´t want to disturb the birds I haven´t been able to do all the work I should have done, but the birds´ well being is more important.  The chicks have already hatched and will sooner or later jump down onto the grounds and will then go to the lake shore and I will be able to start working. 
Regards  Risto
_________________________________________________
24-06-2011
 
Disaster with the Barn Swallow Eggs
 
This Barn Swallow season started so promising: at least 16 active first-brood nests, more than for years.  When Janne came to us to ring Wagtail chicks (the nest was on the tin roof of the cow house, under eaves) we noticed strange-looking eggshell’s on the barn floor under one Barn Swallow nest.  They were not normal neat eggshell halves but many kinds of small and large pieces.  First we thought that the first swallow chicks had hatched, but then I started suspecting everything was not right.  And indeed, the following days the nest seemed abandoned.  Some days later I was shocked to see a squirrel robbing swallow nests!  I tried to chase the beast away but it came back at least once again.  Now I have not seen it for a week and I hope it will never come back.   At this stage it is difficult to say, how much damage the squirrel did, but my rough estimation is that at least half of the nests were emptied.  There have been squirrels during the swallow season a couple of times earlier in the barn during all the decades that swallows have been nesting in the barn, but in all those cases I was lucky enough to notice it immediately and was able to chase them away before they could eat up swallow eggs or chicks.  This time was different, first I did not even know  a squirrel was emptying the nests. 
 I think some swallow pairs have left to re-nest elsewhere, but the good news is that there are still lots of Barn Swallows left and they are starting to re-nest.  
 Now I have taken preventive measures for the squirrel (for instance a plastic Great Horned Owl to keep the squirrel away) and so far it seems those measures are working.  Time will tell if it will be permanent.  I do understand that what happened is only natural but I cannot help feeling very bad.  Unfortunately, no matter how well you try to protect your Barn Swallow friends, you just cannot always succeed.
 Regards Risto

14 June Barn Swallows want to build a nest on top of a shoe Box – By Peter John5 June

White-tailed Barn Swallow – By Risto Jäntti

I was today in Kuopio, a town 80 km east of Niinivesi, doing shopping in gardening centers.  My friend´s station wagon was full of different plants when we returned to Vesanto.  Not only am I swallow-crazy, but also garden-crazy.  Of course our northerly location sets certain restrictions, but anyway.
So far I have been able to confirm 7 barn swallow nests, but there are still several swallow pairs whose nests I haven´t noticed yet.  Only one pair have made a new nest, others use old ones, rich in amount. 
Yesterday, when I was on the balcony watching swallows eat sand on the ground under the balcony, I saw THE white-tailed barn swallow flying past me below the balcony.  That bird must be the same white-tailed swallow that astonished us last summer; another same kind of swallow would be too much of a coincidence, wouldn’t it?
Hopefully we will be able to recapture the bird later this year and then we will know for sure.  We have recaptured the swallow several times and only this and last year it has had white feathers in the tail, before it had a normal tail.  Very interesting!
 I will keep you informed about how the swallows´ nesting develops further.
Regards Risto

3 June Baby Barn Swallows take their first flight  – By Peter John

2 June Barn Swallow nest with a helping hand – See photos – By Svend Jørgensen

1 June Report on the Sasol Birding Fair – By Angie Wilken

What a delightful surprise for the Mount Moreland Conservancy to be invited and sponsored by Birdlife to attend this event.
I was so excited, so much to prepare and organize and sooner than expected it was time to catch a plane and go. A smooth flight on a plane with a total weight mass of 64 tons, just under an hour and touch down at Lanseria Airport to be greeted by a slightly chilly JHB.

Early on Saturday morning we arrived at the zoo at 6am, still dark and frost patches whitened the grass, the weather quite different from our Mount Moreland, KZN home ground. Time to set up and display, I was allocated a gazebo with a table and chairs. The most unusual thing about this event held in the zoo is that you have animals all around you and some of the most strangest sounds and calls could be heard throughout the day.

Before long all stand holders were set up and the public slowly started to arrive. Most visitors that stopped at the Mount Moreland stand had already heard of or knew about our Barn Swallows and lots of them have it as an event they want to see and experience. It was lovely to share our knowledge and destination of Barn Swallows with so many visitors.

These are some of the creatures that were close to my stand.African Elephant, Lemur, Famous gorilla Statue, Yellow Cheeked Gibbon with baby. There were lots of interesting things to see and talks to attend – much more than listed on the programme.

There were some really interesting exhibitors….wildlife, birding clubs and organizations, magazines, binoculars, books, bird seed and feeders, bird art,  here are some of them

All too soon the show was over and I am truly grateful and thankful for having this wonderful opportunity
and experience presented to us to showcase and promote our Barn Swallows of Mount Moreland.
Thank you Birdlife – Sasol and ACSA (Airports Company South Africa)
It really was awesome

May 2011
 25 May Barn Swallow web cam 24/7 viewing of nesting swallow – see story – By Ann Gunning
Link :http://www.rte.ie/radio/mooneygoeswild/features/mooneycam/swallow_nest cam_aras.html

25 May Barn Swallows seek creature comforts – see photo – By Peter John18 May

Barn Swallows nesting indoors – by Paula Clementsbarn swallows inside nest

I hope that you have not thought that I had forgotten you, I was waiting for the baby swallows to hatch. They have hatched now and are tweeting away, when food is brought to them, so all is well.
There has been a lot of activity in the village as returning swallows have been looking for nesting places, they are so desperate at this time of the year and will fly in through any open windows or doors if they have a chance. If people open their garage doors the swallows fly in so it is difficult if they start to nest and then the doors are shut!  I feel so sorry for the swallows and hope that finally they find somewhere! There has been so much interest in my room with as many as seven flying in and out, round and round the room and then perching. Normally I have only one nest in use at a time but now two are in use and a couple are looking at a third but the original pair are not very keen on the invaders and try to chase them way! It is so fascinating to watch them as they are so noisy in a lovely happy way.
My relative in Southern Spain who e mailed me to tell me that his swallows had arrived earlier than usual, told me that his babies had hatched and it was exactly at the same time as mine! Coincidentally it was the same last year.
Our Spring has been unusually warm and dry, this weather has been experienced in most of Europe. A friend from Holland wrote to tell me that swallows there were having difficulty in finding wet mud to build their nests. Another friend in England said that the house martins were having a similar problem there and suggested that interested people make muddy patches to help them! So lots of people do care for our friends.
I will contact you again when I see the babies with their heads above the nests!
Love Paula

17 May Barn Swallows Mud Bath – See movie by Svend Jørgensen16 May

Story on a Visit to the Barn Swallow site from a Cape Town Visitor – by Margaret Mac Iver

How wonderful to find your website!  And that’s only because I was reading an article in the Sunday times on travel in KZN, and it made a mention of your site.
One of the most breathtaking memories I have is of visiting Mt. Moreland in April two years ago.  It may be have more than 2 years, I will have to check
up, but I had a spare day in Durban, and a hired car and I talked myself into going, though here in Cape Town, we don’t know much about your roost.  I had been told by someone who had heard about it from someone else etc.
There weren’t many people there, by the time I managed to find it!  And I was freezing, I hadn’t even taken a jacket.  Then the birds started arriving, and
just kept coming – I was entranced, clicking away with my camera, which is really useless with that many birds.  I do one nice photo however, looks
like soot flying around after a fire!  I was lucky enough to see the 3 million birds just before they left, and I will never forget it, ever.
When I returned home to Cape town, I wrote a piece for sabirdnet and capebirdnet and tried to describe the scene, but it defied description.After
I sent my piece in, four or five Durban people contacted me, and said they’d loved what I’d said, but they’d never really thought of going.  Now
they had all made the effort and some of them ”fostered’ swallows, and I was so happy that I had a part in that.
I heard from birders in Jhb and many here in Cape town who all said they just never really bothered, or weren’t there at the right time, but were all
going to put the site on their birding agenda. I couldn’t believe how many people were missing such an incredible sight, but hopefully they all did get
there.
This was just before the construction of the new airport, and I think people just assumed the Swallows would be lost or move away.
I’ve often wondered what actually happened, I do know you are working with the airports company, but I’ve also heard that not so many Swallows come to
roost any more.
In fact, today’s article mentioned that more than 1 plane has had to be re-routed to another runway to avoid the swallows?
Which brings me back to saying how happy I am to have discovered you have a website.  When I am in that area again, and if its right time of year, I can
now just check your daily log to see whats happening with the birds, and the weather.
I do wish you all the luck in the world with protecting these birds.  That one evening gave me immense pleasure, and we cannot lose this roost.  We do
have Barn Swallow roosts in Cape town, but they are nothing like Mt. Moreland.
Well done to you all.
Best regards Margaret Maciver
Cape Town
___________________

Published Story

I spent a few days in Umhlanga  in KZN last week looking for lifers, and though I did get two,  I also had an experience of a lifetime which had nothing to
 do with lifers.
 I was advised by Bob Rickards (who helped me find my two lifers at Ongoye) that I must visit the Barn Swallow roost at Mount Moreland (which was
 threatened by the proposed new Durban airport) and although he gave me directions, I didn’t really think I would do it.  After all, they are Barn Swallows and who hasn’t seen a few of those?
 However he persuaded me so I did go on Sunday evening.  I arrived around 5p.m. and already people were setting up tables and chairs and opening the wine bottles.  After the clouds and rain of the days before, it looked as though there would be a glorious sunset.
More and more people arrived (many non birders without binoculars) and the entrancing spectacle began.  We all sat in wonder as three million plus
 Barn Swallows circled above our heads twittering constantly.  When you kept thinking there wasn’t enough sky another huge flock would arrive.  A few
million Swallows became black specks against the red setting sun making it so much more dramatic than a normal sunset. The birds constant calling was
 better than any open air concert.
There are info boards, people telling you about Barn Swallows, and booklets on sale.  The booklets try to show you pictures and I tried to take a few
 photographs, but you cant photograph the entire sky and the Swallows fill the entire sky, completely encircling you and as far as you can see, from
 dots high in the sky to just over the reeds, and from right in front of you into the far distance.
 We were told the huge numbers and the twittering means the Swallows are preparing to leave so now is the best time to see the show.
 It has to rate as one of the natural wonders of the world, and was definitely the highlight of my trip, but  I’m not a poet so find it difficult to describe the sheer magnificence of watching and hearing 3 million  Barn Swallows!
 If anyone is in the area before mid April when the Swallows are expected to leave, and hasn’t seen the roost, please go, you will never ever forget it.
 Margaret Maciver
 Cape Town.
 Story dated 19 March 2008, so I was at the Swallow roost the week before that – perfect timing for me!

10 May Sasol Birding Fair to be held at the Johannesburg Zoo 28 & 29 May. This is the first time Mount Moreland will be showcasing the Barn Swallows away from the viewing site.
Our visit is sponsored by Birdlife and ACSA

8 May Risto and the first Barn Swallow in Finland – By Risto Jäntti
With the weather having started to warm up after a cold period it was just a matter of time when the first swallows would arrive.  Yesterday morning ( 7 May 2011 ) at 9.04 I was in the yard when I thought I had heard a Barn Swallow call.  Then I saw the bird, it flew over the lake towards our house and slipped directly into the barn.  I went after it and saw it sitting on a beam high near the roof, next to a nest.  The bird was silent and looked exhausted, no wonder.  Swallow-crazy as I am, I was moved into tears by the arrival of that tiny long-distance traveler.  Then I held a little welcoming speech to the swallow, promising to do everything in my power to ensure the well-being and successful nesting of our swallows.  So let us hope that also this year predators will stay out of the barn.  Later that day I saw the swallow every now and then flying about twittering over the yard. In the evening after the sunset the bird was sitting in the same place as in the morning when I saw it for the first time.  That confirmed that the swallow was one of our swallows, not a passer-by. Keeping predators off the barn is maybe my most important task concerning the swallow protection, and that can sometimes be a challenge.  I have even been sleeping in the barn to prevent magpies from trying to get an easy meal of swallow chicks early in the morning.  If I slept in the house, I could do nothing to prevent that.

Swallows do not certainly need me in their nesting, but I have tried to help them even in that for instance by bringing mud, feathers and crushed eggshells (good for swallow egg formation) into their reach.  Janne said a mixture of ground eggshells and fish scales would be ideal.

The weather will be warming up day by day and I greet that with pleasure.  Everything is starting to grow up very fast, as if plants knew the summer ahead in some weeks will be short.  Night frost is still a threat, old people say only after June the 10th there should be no danger of it.

Regards Risto and the first swallow

April 2011  Barn Swallow News 2011
23 April Barn Swallows Arrive in Wales – by Peter John

22-04-2011 Just read today’s information on your blog. Sad, felt I was there too. Know the feeling when the Barn Swallows finally depart from my place. Still keep looking up into the skies weeks after just in case there are a few left. Have seen a single one flying over, heading south late in October on occasions’.
You take care, and be pleased you are playing a vital part in educating people with the gifts we have in such beautiful little birds that become our favorites, possible because, in my case nest in our homes and trust us. Plus what a task they have to endeavor to fly such a distances at around 25 mph. You can do the conversion? 

19-04-2011 Hi Angie, pleased to tell you firstly the weather is cooking hot here with a heat wave for this time of year. Secondly the third pair of returning swallows came into barn this morning. All went to their respective nests as usual.

15-04-2011  Angie, pleased to mention the lone swallows mate has arrived today .Now there are four Barn Swallows in the little barn. Expecting another pair shortly that always come later.

 13-04-2011 My two Barn Swallows have finished renovating nest and ready to lay eggs, as she is sitting on it for long periods. I think the male is also flirting with the other swallow in the barn, female it must be. Expecting more swallows to arrive in the barn in the coming weeks, the normal time of year they come.  The third swallow can’t be the group from last year with one male and his two brides, as she haven’t renovated the wall nest she now stays in at night. She now always joins the pair when they fly out for food etc.

8-04-2011 Thought you might like to see a picture of my third single swallow to arrive on April 6th. It wont move away all day from sitting by the wall nest on the florescent  tube. The other pair are very friendly towards it, and sometimes perch along side him or her. Haven’t seen  tail feathers to know yet. Sometimes follows the other two out when looking for insects. Hope I’m right by saying it could be waiting for it’s mate, unless sadly might not arrive.

7-04-2011 Just for the record, I now have another male taken residents in barn, and expect his mate shortly to arrive. Skies are full of incoming swallows St Clears area, and now settling in various farm buildings. Spent most of the morning checking if any swallows were back to favourite nesting sites I know of.

22 April All Swallows now migrated
5 April Barn Swallows nesting in unusual places – See photos by Paula Clements
5 April Barn Swallows move into new home in workshop – See photos by Peter John
4 April Unusual Barn Swallow crafts and novel ideas – See photos by Ali Hirondelles
1 April Local newspaper plays April fool on the Barn Swallows
March 2011  Barn Swallow News 2011
30 March First plane diverted due to dense swallow numbers –

Barn Swallow Red Alert

HI Albert

Can you confirm that a swallow red alert was issued last night  ( about 6pm) from the radar to a plane approaching to land ?

From the ground that’s what appeared to have happened, the sky was thick with swallows.
I was at Proposed Froggy Pond viewing site with spectators and the plane aborted landing and pulled up into the clouds.

Look forward to your response
Best Wishes Angie

_______

Hi Angie,

Earlier today 30th March we had a high risk condition which led to a warning being issued and a runway change from 06 to 24

This must have been what you observed.

The birds are present in very large numbers at the moment.

Rgds, Albert
_________________________

Hi Angie, Just to let you know, I flew in from Jhb. on Wed 30-03-11 around dusk (Damn flight was delayed) and after the pilots spiel about preparing to descend, he came back on and told us all that we were plane no.2 on a holding pattern as there was swallow activity near the airport, he then explained a little bit to the passengers about the swallows (I felt quite chuffed that ACSA were actually caring I suppose) Sure enough we circled a few times then eventually landed from the Westbrook side.

This was the first time I’d heard anything like this (I fly once sometimes twice a month to Jhb) so I even spoke to the pilot about it and he said it doesn’t happen that often, I then chibbed him about what height he’s at and what speed he’s doing as he’s flying over the park (I was just curious) he said about 400-500 Ft. and about 250Km/hr.

Jim Retson
Technical Manager – KZN

12 March Barn swallow trials and tribulation, UK, last season – Read Stories….
9 March Barn Swallows begin to chirp, sign that the migration has begun.
8 March Barn Swallow website now one Year old.
February 2011
17 February The regeneration of the reedbed at Lake Victoria – What happened to the Lake Victoria reedbed?

Unsettled Barn swallow roosting patterns were evident from the beginning of the swallow season
in October. Then all the barn swallows settled and seemed to normalize until the 17 December,
in fact we had more barn swallows than we had ever seen in previous years.
To our astonishment and dismay the Barn Swallows all disappeared between Christmas and New Year, not one barn swallow was to be seen roosting in Lake Victoria.
What had happened? what had caused this major upset?

We received word from the radar team (ACSA) whom run and monitor the barn swallows, they told us that
the Barn Swallows hadn’t left and that they were using the Mdloti estuary and Froggy Pond.
Perplexed by this sudden change in swallow behaviour a meeting was called with experts and all possible assumptions and possible causes were debated and explored thoroughly. The outcome was the fact the reed Phragmites Australis had reached the end of its life and was currently undergoing regeneration.
The old reed not strong enough for swallow roosting and the new reed was not long enough. The reed lasted just long enough for the arrival of Barn Swallow migrants.

Reflecting back to the end of last season (April 2010) I remembered that the reed had produced a black flower tip or plume and we had thought that it look strange but didn’t pay that much attention to it.
Apparently this is a sign of pollination, seeding and the start of the regeneration process, the reed has an approximate life span of five years.

Currently the new reed regrowth is growing at an extremely accelerated rate and it will be interesting to
see if when the migration begins in March if the reedbed is used by the migratory Barn swallows
returning from roosting grounds further South.

12 February I know that you don´t understand Danish 🙂 but I found this TV program on the net. Around 5 min. from the start of the program it shows recordings from an very old, very dirty and very little farm here in Denmark. The farmer had made more than 6.000 ringing of Barn Swallows during the last 30 years. Every year he has around 35 couples nesting. One of the nests are 30 years old.

http://www.dr.dk/DR1/Ryge/programmer/2008/06/02125307.htm  submitted by Svend Jørgensen

11 February Barn Swallows aired on East Coast Radio news watch – see report
10 February Barn Swallow Story from Wales-UK by Peter John
A story of years of barn swallow observations and what one can do to assist and encourage
the nesting read more…
1 February Migration of Barn Swallows between Britain and South Africa was first established on 23 December 1912 when a bird that had been ringed by James Masefield at a nest in Staffordshire, was found in Natal. This first ringing recovery was made in Natal on the coast at a place known as Umhlanga, a few miles away from a site known as Mount Moreland.
By Trevor Snyman see Barn Swallow Story
January
2011
23 January Winter News from Finland – By Risto Jäntti
This winter has been hard.  The temperature was below zero constantly almost for two months. Only once the temperature has risen over the freezing point, but it lasted only one day and after that it has been frost all the time.  Last week we had -30 deg, but now it has been between -5 and -10.  Actually quite warm.  I think 0 to -10 is warm, -10 to -20 is cool and -20 to -30 is cold and -30 and colder is very cold (this time I am not joking).  When I was younger, I used to walk for hours in our forest when it was -30 deg and everything was covered with snow and the sun was shining, although low.  The snow made bushes and small trees look like different animals, it was so great, you could even imagine yourself being in the middle of a fairy tale…  Now, being older I find it more comfortable indoors when it is -30 deg.  Needless to say that Finnish houses must be warm in winter. Trying to fight global warming is a real challenge in our conditions because even houses should consume less ans less energy, and now they are already starting to build houses which get all the heating energy they need from the people living in those houses and all kinds of electrical devices that flood houses nowadays.  I hope those systems will function in reality. 
 
Exactly a month ago, the 22nd of December, there was the winter solstice, the shortest day and longest night in the Northern Hemisphere.  At that point the day lasts in our horizon less than for 4 hours.  People here say that there is actually no day but the dawn is directly followed by the dusk.  Well, that is exaggeration, but it is not far from the truth at least when the sky is darkened by clouds. Now the days have already grown longer, not much but the change can be clearly noticed.
 
You must be relieved as the swallows have – at least partially –  returned to Mount Moreland.  For how long do swallows use a reedbed for roosting in South Africa?  Has that ever been studied?  Since there were no pollutants found in the Mount Moreland waters, could it be that the reason for the swallows´ roosting pattern change would be – the planes?  Is that not the only thing that has changed recently?  Let us hope that the swallows will not completely move away from Mount Moreland since you have done so much for the swallows there.
Enjoy your summer with swallows.
Risto

December 2010 Barn Swallow News 201127 December

MT MORELAND BARN SWALLOWS RELOCATE

There are no swallows to be seen at the Mt Moreland Roost. Having provided swallow watchers with some wonderful displays since their arrival in October, there were many more swallows this season than last, at the Moreland Roost for the last couple of months, the swallows are suddenly gone. While some may have indeed left for more southern roosts already, and some as we have heard dispersed into other nearby small roosts, it appears that the bulk to have moved down to the reed-beds of Umdloti Estuary.

There were hints, early in the season, that they were not entirely settled in Lake Victoria Roost as they disappeared, just before the Return of the Swallows event, into Froggy Swamp reed-bed on the north side of Mt Moreland. Previously know as the Annex which took only over-spill Froggy Swamp is in fact closer to the airport. However, much to everyone’s relief they were back in the Lake Victoria Roost within days ready to show off at the event on Sunday 7 November.

Following this they seemed to settle down and we had some wonderful displays, more swallows than we had ever seen in previous years. The only disruption being that when planes went over they veered away only to come together in their groups as soon as a plane had gone. They seemed to be adjusting. Then came two rainy days with considerably cooler temperatures. The numbers of swallows dropped. Then on the night of 17 December – the night of our Carols by Candlelight event – the majority of swallows again seemed to favour Froggy Swamp.

A couple of days passed and observation showed not only was there no swallow activity but very little activity of any sort in the Lake Victoria Reed-bed. Not a swallow to be seen, nor herons, or weavers, or bishop birds, or anything moving. Visiting swallow watchers were directed over to behind the Gazebo and for several nights we saw at least some swallows. Then by Christmas Eve there were virtually none in either reed-bed.

All of this was recorded by ACSA’s bird detect radar which shows a whole swathe of swallows now using the reedbeds in the Umdloti River estuary. Why this movement? Is it the aircraft arriving and departing on the flight path over the Mt Moreland roosts, not only the noise, but the vortex winds left by the planes as well. If so, why did the swallows take so long to move? There are other impacts that could be playing a role such as the denuding, due to the drought, of the cane fields around Lake Victoria resulting in less insect food; possible changes in both reed-beds to the quality and quantity of stormwater coming off the airfield and from the sewerage package plant; or the changeable weather conditions.
We are awaiting feed back from the experts.

As 2011 is about to begin, we do not know if the barn swallows will return to the Mt Moreland Roost – a roost they have used for decades. The telling month will be March when those that have already moved through the roost for roosts further south return on their way back to the northern hemisphere breeding grounds. Will they stop off in the Mt Moreland roost or head for the new alternative roosts?

We urge all swallow watchers to stay in touch through our website www.barnswallow.co.za where we will post any updates. Obviously our sponsored ringing project and public ringing experiences are discontinued so we ask the public and any ringers to please contact the webmaster, Angie Wilken, directly with any reports of ringed swallows, or birds, from Mt Moreland so we can share the information both locally and internationally.  It is essential that the interest, enthusiasm and support for the swallows is maintained. By the swallows relocating locally they have demonstrated the importance of this area as a stopover point in their migration. We need to ensure as the area develops that they are protected and that all the relevant authorities are aware of the roost site changes and take due cognizance of the international concern and impacts of disturbing bird migration routes.  As highlighted by such agencies as BirdlifeSA and Birdlife International the disturbance of bird migration routes can seriously impact on bird population numbers. In turn this directly affects the biodiversity of life across our world as well as human activities such as agriculture and indeed our own health – by impacting on one life form we ultimately impact on ourselves.

For those who live in Mt Moreland, particularly those who have been so involved with the swallows, it is incredibly difficult to come to terms with fact the swallows have gone. We are deeply saddened at the loss of this amazing natural phenomenon and the joyous presence of these incredible little birds which have lived on our doorstep and with us for as long as any of us can remember.

Please keep in contact and report back on your barn swallow sightings so we may share your experiences with the all swallow watchers wherever they may be, from our invaluable contact, Risto, in Finland from where our first Mt Moreland record came, to those locally who record swallow activity. It is through sharing information that we learn and contribute to a better future .

To close, a number of people, in spite of the lack of swallows, have expressed interest in just coming to enjoy the sunset and have picnic in the country at the view-site. You are welcome. For your interest there is also a braai area at the Gazebo which, for a small hire charge, is also available to groups. You are welcome just give us a ring so we can open up for you or in the case of a braai make booking. Contact 031 568 1557.

23 DecemberLesser Stripe Swallows make a home
Our home is in Port Edward, South Coast Natal. We received our very first lesser stripe swallows this November and are extremely proud of them.

They have made their nest under the front Veranda roof and in the early morning 
we can hear them chirping away. 
The verse from the Gospel of Mathew chapter 10 verses 29-31 has been placed underneath the nest to remind visitors that God cares for us as well as the common old Sparrow. 
I am concerned for the chicks when they are ready to come out and therefore thinking of erecting a small platform alongside the narrow nest entrance. Do you think this is a good idea, have you any suggestions or should I just leave them to do their thing? 
 God’s richest Blessings to you and your family over the Christmas season 
 Ron and Gene Payne 

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