19 June 2018 – Cornwall UK – following the swallow fledging of the first four of the season on the 16 th, we had a further five swallows successfully leave their nest yesterday, and they returned to roost in their nest in our garage last night.
With regard to our third nest which we reported earlier. We had noticed that only the female Swallow was feeding, the Swallow cock bird spending most of the time perched nearby. As they were due to fledge about now, and I had not noticed much movement today, I decided to have a closer look in the nest, and was saddened to find that all four chicks were dead. They looked near to fledging, but were very small and light. I think that the one bird could probably supply enough food when they were very small, but as they grew probably she could not keep up with the amount of food required to complete their development. We’re very sad and disappointed,but we must accept that, that’s nature.
Anyway, all the birds have been out chasing around today, almost a mini Mount Moreland ! The weather is set fair, so hopefully we shall soon be having our second broods. Will let you know how they progress.
Best Regards. John.
16 June 2018 – Cornwall UK – pleased to report that four of the five young swallows in one of our three nests successfully fledged this morning. The other two nests are very near to doing the same, will keep you informed. The weather is drizzling, and 13*C !
Regards from a chilly Cornwall.
14 June 2018 – Yorkshire UK – Just a quick e-mail as we are just going on leave, after getting back off a trip. Mrs Mac reports that the Swifts returned 8/6 and indeed I have seen them today. Reduced in numbers down to 6 but at least back for the summer. Weather has been very mild and indeed warm here through May, and it has lasted into June so far, with little in the way of rain up here. Other areas of the UK have suffered periodic Thunder Storms with flash flooding, but that has missed us here. I got caught going into Heathrow in one a few weeks ago that was quite dramatic for the UK, but nothing compared to Tropics or mid west US at this time of year. Anyway still no little Swallows but maybe some when we return from leave.
12 June 2018 – Brittany NW France – When the first male arrived there was a long gap, nearly 10 days before a female arrived, I was getting worried as often they can arrive within 48 hours of the male. Only one pair so far. A week later another male arrived, again a long gap and he finally paired up. The boiler room nesting site was immediately taken and the eggs hatched 27th May, Mysteriously the second pair left. The other swallows could have forced them away but I think it was because in the old stable nest site, which was used last year (sadly hatchlings died in a freak cold wet spell) a tiny wren built an enormous nest on top of the swallows old nest from last year, and possibly this scared them. They must have thought there was an very big bird living in there!!!
Maybe it was the other male swallow ??!! I have not seen any other swallows in my neighbourhood, last spring numbers were better. My neighbour has not seen his swallows this year. Insects are plenty, first time in over 20 years my windscreen has needed cleaning, presume its due to the humid weather non stop since december.
10 June 2018 – Wherwell UK – Eggs hatched last Wednesday (6th June) and the parents are in and out busily feeding the young. The weather has remained warm with occasional rain so insects are plentiful. The parents are taking advantage of the mayfly season which is at its peak. This entails only a short 200 metre flight to the river for a plentiful food supply and the young are getting regular feeding every 2 minutes or so.
When I have some photos of the young I’ll send them to you.
6 June 2018 – Cornwall UK – Our three nests now have five young in each, and feeding is proceeding apace in a spell of perfect summer weather. Such a contrast to the Arctic start of the spring !
General opinion is that our Spring was about thirty days late this year, which it appears may well be the reason that Barn Swallow, House Martin and Swift numbers are slightly down in this area. We have a small Colony of Swifts near us, and they arrived on the 4th, about a month later than normal. Our two pairs of House Martins have not appeared yet, and two local Swallow sites still have no birds.
Still, if this fine summer weather continues I’m sure, as Mr Mac would say, there will be enough NR’s to restore numbers to normal, and return to you and Mount Moreland.
3 June 2018 – Yorkshire UK – All Swallows have settled down to breed in their respective barns / stables and have stopped trying to nest in our garages which is good news for me, and the respective cars paint work ! All very active at the moment but no young just yet though other birds , notably some Sparrows who have built their nest just outside our study window have obviously bred judging by the excited chatter when parents come back with food. A notable absence however this year has been our Swifts which have not yet returned. I am not sure why this should be as they are a bigger, and probably a better flyer over long distances than our Barn Swallows, however they have failed to show up yet. I keep thinking I have seen one but on closer inspection all have turned out to be fat Swallows ! We will keep looking, and maybe they will eventually show up though it is getting very late for them.
I have not seen anything of Swallows on my own journeys but will no doubt see plenty in the mountains in Majorca in June when I am taking some leave with Mrs Mac.
Will let you know when we have some young to report, or when Swifts turn up.
30 May 2018 – The Black Isle, UK – We’ve had up to 4 swallows nesting in our garage for 34 years & to our dismay not a single one has arrived this year. Out & about we’ve noticed the odd one feeding over fields but there is a worrying lack of numbers.
Regards Ian & Pat
25 May 2018 – Masham, North Yorkshire, UK – Hi there, our regular swallows, 3 nests usually, arrived during April, started nesting but have now gone over past three days. Really sad, any ideas?
24 May 2018 – Wherwell UK – Breeding is now underway. The swallows have surprisingly chosen the second artificial nest in the car port which they’ve ignored for the last two years. I didn’t think they’d ever use it because it is more difficult to access high in the roof and we couldn’t put it up straight! Not sure why they’ve switched to this one, the other one used over the last two years may have excessive parasites in it perhaps.
The female is definitely on eggs now (only for 2 days) and I’ll let you know when they hatch. Our neighbours’ pair has returned to their car port after first breeding in there last year and numbers generally in the area are pretty much as normal. House Martins are back, possibly a little down in number but they are again in the artificial nest above our bathroom window. Swifts do seem lower in number but they were late so may still be arriving.
23 May 2018 – Cornwall UK – It’s certainly proving to be a late start to breeding this year. I reckon that very cold weather we had in March may have taken its toll on numbers successfully completing migration. I have done a survey of usual nest sites in the local area, and out of the nine , three sites have no birds at this time. Normally our two pairs of House Martins are back by now, we did have a visit by a pair a couple of weeks ago, but have not seen them since.
We now have three pairs of Barn Swallows in our garage, each pair sitting on five eggs. I have seen odd Swallows flying over and onward, so hopefully these latecomers will make up numbers.
On a more optimistic note I came across this poem written by a Swallow enthusiast local farmer and given to me back in 1993.
By Wesley Colwill 1993.
Wild birds in their flight
are a wondrous sight.
Their wing movement too fast for to follow,
But what’s to compare as it flies through the air
is the black and white glints of the Swallow.
Slender wings speed them on
quickly swerve then it’s gone,
over cornfields, across waters bright.
Over rooftops they skim, tiny feathers packed trim.
Perfection the ease of their flight.
How they chase near the trees
in the warm mid day breeze,
Cloudy skies at the end of the day.
Rusty leaves start to fall,
soon they hear nature’s call
gentle words “come away, come away”.
Come away from your birth place
come away from this land.
Travel South above snow covered peaks,
Wing across deep blue oceans
flanked by white dessert sands,
soon the time for to rest, eat and sleep.
We envy them all as they gather each day
Sounds of chatter and Twitter then fly.
Quite soon all of their kind will away not one left
as the storm clouds of winter draw neigh.
We see flowers out the windows
then we know winters gone,
Swaying daffodils, yellow and clear.
And warm raindrops fall gently
on rolling farmland.
There it is ! Our first Swallow is here.
Kind regards. John.
21 May 2018 – Pinel, France – We live in SW France and normally have 30-40 swallows zipping around the pool in the evening + several swifts. This year only 2-3 swallows have returned and no swifts. I have been wondering why. Just read your Nov 17 report about the weak appearance of the arriving birds at that time, so maybe that was the cause of the low survival rate. The cold spring this year may also have caused more deaths on their return journey north.
19 May 2018 – Teyjat, France – Hi, I have found your blog on the net as I was trying to research Barn Swallows. We have a large rural property in the north Dordogne of France and lots of outbuildings. We have lived here for 11 years and every year we have 7-8 pairs of Barn Swallows nesting. Normally the air is full and our telephone line a popular perch for the fledglings and adults alike. This year there are no Barn Swallows at all, not one. I kept thinking that they might arrive late due to the uncharacteristic cold weather, but I think that is unlikely now. I just wondered whether anyone else had reported these findings… I am so sad and worried.
17 May 2018 – Amarillo Texas USA – We had our first pair come back to Amarillo Texas west of town 5 miles South of the town of Bushland today 05/16/2018 they have not been back for several years.
9 May 2018 – Update from still cold Yorkshire, UK – Well what a difference a few weeks make. We had record early May temp in the UK over the weekend 5/6th May with temp even up in the North in the mid twenties (even at our elevation) with gentle winds from the south, which as well as being warm, brought the much yearned for females for the male birds. We now have 6NR(New arrivals) Barn Swallows in total with adjacent neighbours contributing a further 4NR (we sent you 26NR so hopefully some more may arrive !), but our Swifts have yet to turn up, though I have seen others locally, so presumably not far behind.
Male and female Swallows scooting all around the place this weekend, and it is difficult to keep them out of the garages, even though they have the barn available, they always seem to keep trying to get in the garages where cars are stored, and this results in further cleaning unfortunately for me. They do this every year when the females arrive, and then seem to settle down to their normal nest sites after about a week. Anyway I was lucky to have the weekend and the Bank Holiday at home, so experienced the females arrival, and the great weather first hand. Weather is set fair for the rest of May, though at more normal temp so plenty of insects for the new arrivals. I am away again soon, up over the ice to LA, so no Swallows to report on this trip, and I have not spoken with anyone who has been to Africa recently, so no updates for you I am afraid.
7 May 2018 – An update from Wherwell, UK – As your other contributors have alluded to, the weather has been very erratic with warm spells followed by cold. This has delayed breeding and since my last update the the Swallows disappeared for a good week before the female, unusually, returned last week with the male back a couple of days later. I assumed they had joined communal feeding and roosting sites and large flocks that were reported over lakes and large bodies of water at this time seemed to suggest this. We are in the middle of some warmer weather again and our pair are definitely getting ready to start the breeding cycle. They seem to be ignoring the artificial nest used for the last two summers (perhaps infested with something) and seem to be favouring the other end of the car port although no nest building has commenced.
Regarding the question posed by John and why the Swallows undertake the hazardous journey to breed here, the best explanation I heard was that the longer hours of light in the European Summer are important in successfully feeding and rearing their young. I have often wondered from where they originated and whether they are an African bird that migrates north to breed or vice versa. Fascinating to think about such concepts!
5 May 2018 – Denmark – First Barn Swallow arrival, Resting – Just arrived from SA – ©Svend Jørgensen
1 May 2018 – Cornwall, UK – We have now had two cock Barn Swallows with us in the unseasonably cold weather for two weeks, They have taken to roosting, not together but by nestling down into last years nests, presumably to keep warm. They were joined a couple of days ago by two females, but it appears the weather is still to cold for amours !!, this morning the temp was 1* C ! They spend the day flying around feeding, somehow finding insects in an air temp of 10 to 12 *C.
Our breeding season is now some three weeks late starting than last year. The forecast is for warmer weather arriving at the weekend, so hopefully we shall see more birds arrive and nesting begin in earnest.
Reading Mr Mac,s report, and his comment about perhaps stopping in Spain in the warmer weather, it raises one of my questions regarding migration.
At the risk of hopefully raising a debate, why do the Swallows undertake the dangerous journey of flying all the way from Mount Moreland to a chilly UK, when the South African winter is warmer than the UK summer ? Ideal I should have thought for breeding. Perhaps someone out there has the definitive answer as to how this came about ?
29 April 2018 – North Yorkshire, UK – Not much to report except it is still very cold ! We had a period (brief up here) of 3 days when temp jumped from low teens to 24°c (I was away !) and then back to low teens and as I type it is 8°c, which is way too cold for late April. There are snow showers would you believe forecast for the SE of the UK on the 30/4 which is getting beyond a joke. This winter is just not letting us go as we had our first frost and light snow in Oct, so we are getting onto a 7 month winter or so it feels.
As far as Swallows are concerned we still only have two back and both are Males so we desperately need some female company for them, and some warmer weather for insects for them to eat. We have some cattle in the fields now, which may help on that front (long horns would you believe, odd looking things for that matter). Further afield my trip to SA was as predicted bumpy and tiring, with many Chinese lanterns (my term for big Storm clouds when lit by lightening at night). Mid Saharan weather up to 32°c during day and now high teens at night, so the door is closing in that sense for north bound migrants. We had another visitor recently from Africa at a local dam, according to a bird watcher I know, when a male Osprey called by on its way north to Scotland, which caused much local interest with bird watchers apparently. No Swifts have returned as yet though they are usually a May arrival so they are missing this poor spring so if I were them I would stay in Spain a bit before venturing further North.
27 April 2018 – Tankersley, Barnsley. South Yorkshire, UK – Hi, well my little friends have returned this morning.(27.4.18). A pair of Barn Swallows woke me up at 6.15am and when I looked out of my bedroom window they were there sat on the telephone wires chattering away. They were late this year they usually arrive around the 11th and 12th April. When i went out shopping they were at their last years nest site on my back porch. Just waiting for another pair to come to the front porch. Very pleased I will keep I will keep in touch with their progress.
25 April 2018 – Brittany NW France – Although I saw swallows on the 8th April, they did not stay. On the 9th a male flew into the stable nest site and left. (weather was not so good maybe).
On the 13th he came back, stayed overnight and left but showed no typical arrival noise or displays. On the 16th, the first day of a mini heat wave, he ? came back making lots of noise and guarding the nest site with aggressive displays to nearby nesting great tits. He was too afraid to fly into the boiler room nest site but was curious. The days were passing by…where were all the swallows ? On the 20th a female arrived, lots of chattering and they flew in and out of both nest sites as if they could not decide which one was better. Finally on the 23rd another male arrived. A little aerial fighting, after a few hours things calmed down and I have now a pair nesting in the boiler room and a single male in the stable.
A slow start to the season but spring was late this year.
21 April 2018 – Ireland – So thrilled that at last a pair of Barn Swallows have made it back to Dalystown this evening, April 21st. Exactly the same date as last year.
Gorgeous day here with plenty of insects flitting over our fields, such a joy to see the Swallows swooping down to pick them out of the air.
16 April 2018 – Wherwell – UK – Our male returned last night at around 7pm, did a few fly-pasts of the car port before flying in. He didn’t roost in there last night but is back this morning flying in and out. There has been a distinct lack of swallows around since I saw my first bird nearly two weeks ago but with warmer weather ahead this week, we should finally see numbers of all migrants increasing.
Just seen the female follow the male into the car port accompanied by lots of song and enticement calling from the male. She is back a good week earlier than last year. Very exciting for the start of a new week!
15 April 2018 – Bradmore – UK – I’ve been scanning our skies for a week, and today saw my first pair of swallows over the village of East Leake nearby.
Truth to say that my heart leapt…..! How joyous they seem, and how sleek and beautiful, given the arduous journey they have had.
We will take good care of them and let them come back to you in six months!
11 April 2018 – Cornwall – UK – At 1 pm today he made a beeline across the field at the back of us, and flew straight into our garage and alighted on “his” perch, as if he’d never been gone ! He looks in fine condition with nice long streamers to his tail.
He’s been out chasing the occasional passing birds, but they have continued on. Hopefully his mate and some of last years broods will also soon return.
It’s a balmy 14*C at the moment, dropping to 7* overnight, so there should be plenty of food flying. Will update on developments.
We shall have a celebratory glass…or two, of Porcupine Ridge tonight !
9 April 2018 – Rosslare Strand Co Wexford Ireland – The first barn swallow was sighted on Saturday 7th April and further ones the following day. After the really bad weather of the last 6 or 7 weeks we’re glad to see them although I’m not sure there is much food for them at the moment as livestock is still indoors and “nunus” are just about non-existent.
Regards Ethel Dwyer
9 April 2018 – Ireland – Single barn swallow arrival, i am surprised to see considering the cold weather on route. Forecast is for warming weather in Ireland, so some more insects around.
8 April 2018 – Brittany NW France. Barn Swallows arrived this morning 11am and another single one this afternoon. I have been expecting them as we have had 2 days of southerly jet Stream from tip of Africa. Yesterday was a lovely sunny day but this week forecast is rain. The flies have not hatched yet due to the cold. We have had the wettest cloudiest winter in living memory according to the old people. Farmers are late in the fields as water logged. Plenty of mosquitoes around though. More southerlies the following weekend and good weather forecast.
8 April 2018 – UK – We had snow here in the south of England just three weeks ago. However yesterday, 7th April, we saw our first returned male barn swallow at the breeding site at Arlington Reservoir in Sussex. Hopefully more will follow soon, but they are already about five days later than in the last few years.
Best wishes from Tim Hanks and Jackie Walsh
8 April 2018 – Yorkshire UK – I pack to leave for Africa, guess what showed up early in our barn ! I did see another Swallow yesterday some miles away on my way to our Farm shop so they are obviously working their way up country. Shows how little I know about Swallows given my last post where I was expecting them a little later. The 8th April is an early return for us, as normally I would have expected them in another 5-10 days especially given the poor weather in Europe in general this spring. Anyway one home, Mrs Mac will be having the customary White wine tonight on her own, as I for obvious reasons will not be partaking.
Looking at the weather on my route we have continued heavy thunderstorms which the LH captain talked about last week, so it looks as though it will be a long and in parts bumpy night!
7 April 2018 – Northern Ireland – Just now Sunday April 7th I was looking out of the window,scanning the skies and I was rewarded earlier than I expected, a beautiful pair of barn Swallows flying over their old haunt after insects. I am so glad they’ve made it back. Our temperatures are only recently getting into double figures and the aphid explosion has begun. Bottle of sparkly reservoir every year for this triumphant occasion. Wishing the rest a safe journey.
6 April 2018 – Mount Moreland South Africa – We have been experiencing severe thunder storms past 2 evenings with heavy down pours resulting in very humid conditions and temperatures remain high 32°C, still seeing swallows when out and about.
5 April 2018 – Yorkshire – UK – Well here we are as you can see still in the frozen North ! Returned from Sunny climbs from Lagos I did see some Swifts about, but no Swallows. This morning woke to find snow again on the hills from last night. Mrs Mac found about 5 inches of snow on her door step Sunday morning with no hubbie to dig. Luckily it melted later that day so she got out OK on Tuesday.
Anyway quick up date from central Sahara, temp in daytime around 30c with night down to mid teens, so still not bad for migrants. Further north they will have a good tail wind as the air over UK and Europe coming from the south and Africa. Temp are building over Europe with 20c forecast for Paris. I was speaking to a Lufthansa captain when we were heading north who had come up from Joburg, and he said they had experienced extensive thunderstorms over central Africa on their route, and had to pick a way through. He reported a solid wall from East to West (that is not fun at night even with modern radar !) over Zaire Zambia Botswana, and they really did not come out of them till north of Guinea which is a band of circa 2000 miles wide which makes for tiring flying.
I have prepared for arrival of our Swallows cleaning nest areas etc, but I think it has been a very cold spring in Europe, and I would be surprised to see any arrivals
at our home much before mid April. Anyway down your way next trip so will keep you updated.
5 April 2018 – Cornwall – UK – The temperature here has today reached 9*C, so spent today in the garden on Swallow watch, and have just been rewarded to see my first ….a handsome looking cock bird flew over , hesitated overhead,….and continued in a westerly direction with great urgency.
I anticipate the numbers now building daily, and hopefully ours will arrive as has been usual on the 14 th. The excitement builds !!
5 April 2018 – UK – First 2 Swallows sighted today flying over the house and quite high up, one bird in song. Probably local birds given the singing make . Will let you know when our birds arrive.
29 March 2018 – Cornwall UK – Excitement Builds – Nests cleaned out, garage tidy’d up, cars moved outside in rain ! Tenvis camera set up ……all we need now is the Swallows to arrive. The temperature at the moment is only 5*C, but is forecast to make 9/10* by the week end, so should be OK.
Mind you, some have been sighted over the last week, and temps have been down to zero, so They would have had a tough time ?!.
If you take look at “www.cbwps.org.uk” you can see the daily log of bird sightings for our area, Cornwall.
Will let you know when the one we saw at Mount Moreland arrives !!
21 March 2018 – Hollister,CA, USA – First Barn Swallow arrived at the nest at my front door. That is the 15th time they have returned. It is still very cold here hope they can find insects.
18 March 2018 – An update from Wherwell, UK – Winter has returned! It is not normal to have snow this far into March but a high pressure system is sitting to the north of the U.K. and pulling in the Siberian winds. You can see the amount of snow in the shot of the garden table and the car port. It is wetter snow this time so at least the roads are passable.
18 March 2018 – Cornwall UK – We have had some early arrivals of Sand Martins and Barn Swallows.
Unfortunately for them the weather has taken a turn for the worse, and very unusually we are experiencing a cold air stream from the continent, our temperature today is Minus 2* C and it is now snowing !! I find it quite upsetting, but we just have to accept that that’s the vagaries of nature. Fortunately ours don’t usually arrive until the second week in April.
It still bugs me as to why your birds are behaving the way they have, I lie awake sometimes thinking about it. I expect that you do to, but then sometimes life and nature is like that, and one has to accept some situations that you cannot control, and move forward.
All the same, I don’t like to be beaten and am still thinking and researching to perhaps finding out why, and who knows something maybe able to be done to persuade them back. If I find what I think is the answer I’l let you know.
Kindest Regards to You.
17 March 2018 – San Miguel de Allende, Mexico – Last year the Barn Swallows arrived two months earlier on March 15, than they had the year before on May 15. They left around October 15 the first year I was in this house and about 2 weeks later last year. I had 9 nests, and I think they all had babies, but the first sets of babies…at least one set of them, all died due to lack of food in the dry season.
I am waiting to see what happens this year. Was hoping your site would give me a clue about other places in Mexico and where they are coming from south of me. SMA has the only Mex Audubon chapter, but they often don’t seem to know about what I want to know.
Christine Eleanor Anderson
16 March 2018 – Barn Swallows at Simbithi, Ballito, South Africa – My friend on the golf side of Simbithi had Barn Swallows on her roof today, ready to go to Europe.
11 March 2016 – Southbroom / Marina Beach – Umkobi Lagoon – South Africa – We also have part of the migration here who roost in the evenings in our reed bed at Umkobi lagoon which is situated between the coastal towns of Southbroom and Marina Beach on the South Coast of Kwazulu-Natal South Africa.Our barn swallows arrived here in October last year and then left around late January this year around the 20th – very early for them and unusual.
6 March 2018 – Yorkshire, UK – The Barn Swallow report in Yorkshire was from a BTO observer at Filey on the Yorkshire Coast near Bridlington, so they should know what they were looking at, but it does seem early. The winds have been from East and very cold and have now swung to SW but usually it is later this month when we get southerly winds and when the migrants come in, maybe they are in fact early. I will let you know if I hear anything further.
March 2018 – participate in international insect survey
Data is needed for March and August, please participate in this, where ever you are in the world
This web site presents a project, in which persons interested in nature can make a difference. We will determine the causes of the dramatic fall in the abundance of insects since 1990 and relate this decline to the abundance of insectivorous birds.
About the project
The number of insects has decreased by more than 70% I large nature reserves in Germany, but also in farmland in Denmark during just 27 years. These declines in the number of insects can be measured from the number of insects on the windscreen of cars. The objective of this study is to use citizen science to (1) determine whether the number of insectivorous birds decreases with a decreasing number of insects on the windscreen of cars, and (2) determine the main factors that explain variation in the abundance of insects.
February 2018 – NO Change in sightings of Barn Swallows, a few seen occasionally and still no roosting. Insects noticeably absent
URGENT NOTICE: Barn Swallow season now closed (as of 18 January 2018) until further notice due to no sightings of Barn Swallows since Christmas Day. Possible reasons for this was a cold snap between Christmas and New Year, even now the weather is really chilly on an evening, this in turn impacts the insects and if there are no insects then the Swallows will move elsewhere.
We will be open for Valentines Day(14 Feb 2018 at 5pm until sunset) evening with or without swallows