March 2017

28 March 2017 – Barn Swallow Season CLOSED as of 28 March 2017 due to virtual NO SHOW of Barn Swallows since 15 December 2016, this is far from the normal Barn Swallow experience that we want you to see and has caused much upset with expectant spectators. This is a first on record of such.
Arrivals in Northern hemisphere already reported
Possible reasons for this are: Drought, Polluted river. rain too late – Swallows settled elsewhere. Lower than normal water levels in Lake Victoria

Please revisit November 2017 on the return migration from Europe

26 March 2017 – Brittany, France – Two Swallows arrived on Sunday evening (26th March). They were sitting together on the cable outside our house and we have seen them flying around since then. We are not sure at the moment if they are our neighbour’s Swallows. Their arrival is a week later than last year, but still earlier than usual.

We are sorry to hear that your season with these lovely birds hasn’t been good and do hope they are okay. The weather here has been warm and sunny and it is so nice to see the Swallows again.
Kind regards,
Veronica & John

22 March 2017 – California, USA – Today around 7PM one Barn Swallow returned to the nest which has been their Summer home since 2003. The weather here has been cold and rainy. I have not seen any flying insects, hope the weather will clear up before more Barn Swallows arrive. Love your website and the good work you do.THANK you very much.
Sincerely, Joyce Richman

14 March 2017 – Rosslare Strand Co Wexford Ireland – Unbelievably, we’ve seen our first barn swallows today!! This is very early for us. It’s usually early in April.
Best wishes Ethel Dwyer

13 March 2017 – UK – Two swallows sighted above Billesdon, East Leicestershire, UK, heading north. Extremely early arrival but weather is mild for mid-March – 16C.
Audrey Walker

11 March 2017 – South Africa – Hi Everyone, in an earlier post someone said that she saw swallows with neurological signs or that died around Kyalami. I am a virologist at the department medical virology, University of Pretoria and work on mosquito transmitted viruses that can infect humans and animals. You may be aware that there is currently an increase of cases of Sindbis virus in the North of Johannesburg with many cases detected in humans. Typically Sindbis present with a rash and fever as well as headache and joint pains and is mostly mild in humans. There have also been cases of West Nile virus which looks the same in humans but in about 1% of cases result in more severe disease such as meningitis or other neurological symptoms. WNV, Sindbis as well as a number of other viruses such as Middelburg virus, Shuni and Equine encephalosis virus can also infect horses and result in fever as well as more severe neurological signs. These viruses are mostly transmitted from birds to mosquitoes then to humans and horses. Horses and humans can’t infect mosquitoes again though and are dead end hosts. My lab do surveillance for these viruses in horses and other animals in the country as a way to detect outbreaks early. We have over the last month detected West Nile virus as well as Middelburg virus cases in horses around Gauteng, KZN, Freestate and the Northern Cape. We are interested to investigate the neurological cases in birds, in particularly swallows to see if it is related. If you see any birds with neurological signs you can contact the state vet, Dr Geertsma, he will bring it to my lab. His number is 0824550835 or contact me. If you pick up dead swallows that are still fresh you can just place it in a plastic bag in an ice cream container or similar and place on an ice/ice brick in a cooler or in the fridge. Its best to use a plastic bag to pick them up not your hands.
You can find more information on my lab at www.zoonosesresearchunit.up.ac.za

6 March 2017 – Spain – Some more Barn Swallows arrived last week, including the ones who live over the TV.  They have been very happy and very chatty. Sadly  two days ago, on a day when we had a lot of rain, she did not return home.  She did not return the next day.  I had not realised after all these years I would be so affected, we were all so sad.

Last night he had come home and was sitting very dejected  on the top of a wall close to the TV, when she quietly crept in and sat close to him.  He moved and turned his back to her.  Not a sound from either. No jubilant reunion.

This morning all is back to normal, lots of chatting and obvious happiness.  Had she gone off with someone else for a couple of days?  Does anyone know.  I had assumed the worse, and thought she was dead.  I cannot imagine she got lost as she can find her way back thousands of kilometres.  The silence of her entry, and him turning away from her, was completely abnormal.  If they every do come home separately there is always lots of joyous chatter in their reunion.

Kind Regards Pauline.

6 March 2017 – UK – I noticed you had a few more Barn Swallows arrive yesterday and hopefully this might signal the onset of the migration for you? Really hope they return for you over the next 6 weeks or so.

Interestingly there have been some early sightings in the UK (see link below) and it is not common to see as many arrivals as this in a range of locations is during the first week of March (there have also been a number of House Martin and Sand Martin sightings, very uncommon for House Martins in particular to arrive so early, Sand Martins less so). You can also see that there was a solitary sighting in January and the odd bird does seem to linger through the winter and presumably perish eventually. Would be fascinating to know if these early March arrivals are birds that have wintered in southern Europe (I believe a very small number do this) or if they have returned from further afield and either way why they have returned early as temperatures are currently around 5-7 Celsius and far from suitable for swallows so their survival prospects must be relatively poor.

I will keep monitoring and let you know when I see my first swallow, normally not until the end of March or early April.
Best wishes Tom

3 March 2017 – UK – Thought you might like to hear (or not) this but the BTO Migration Blog for 3r March has a report of 3nr House Martins a handful of Sand Martins and ONE Swallow reported on the South Coast.
Cheers Mac

February 2017
28 Feb 2017 – Rutland Water, near Oakham, Rutland, UK – Subject: Sand Martin
A sand martin sighted at Rutland Water yesterday (28th Feb.) I do realize you do not monitor martins but this is incredibly early so can the swallows be far behind?
 Audrey Walker

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