20 September 2018 – Wherwell, UK – Most Barn Swallows have now left us with only the odd late breeding pair still present at the bigger colonies in the area. Our male left first on September 2nd, the female remained with the young until the 9th and the last of the young remained until the 17th. House Martins are hanging around but should be off very soon. We are on the periphery of some stormy conditions at the moment; the north west and Ireland have been hit badly and it may well have thrown some migrating birds off course.
Hope that your Summer brings the conditions you need for the mass swallow numbers to remain with you, I will be checking your updates throughout the season.
11 September 2018 – Yorkshire, UK – Well its September, and time for departure nears for our Swallows. I am also away from tomorrow, and I am sure they will have gone by my return, so I am getting their departure in early. We have not seen the lining up on the telephone lines as normal this year, or at least I have not seen it, as I have been away quite a bit. We did see this in August, but not since, hence no photos – perhaps they are camera shy ! Cattle are back in our fields now, so there are plenty of flies around on which they can stock up on for their trek south.
It has been an odd summer as others have said, with lower breeding numbers, and indeed one of our neighbours had three birds in their barn all summer with no young, and one of them at least was female judging by the action of the other two birds he said. Also during June/July/August there did seem to be a lack of insects, going by our car windscreens, so maybe this combined with the heat had a bearing on it. Our concern is that with the limited numbers we are sending south, and the attrition rate, will any make it back to our barns. It will be a very sad April if that occurs, but there is nothing we can do about it, just hope.
Our resident winter Robin (who has distinctive white feathers, and a liking for Meal worms from your hand) has returned, as against the summer one who turns up in May, but will not come close to you. Other than that not much happening, I just hope it’s a mild winter after this year’s early freezing temps.
9 September 2018 – Brittany NW France – This year was the worst year for swallows in my area in the last 8 years. Very few arrived in the spring. We finally had one pair who reared a first clutch successfully, however we had been in a drought since May, the fledglings and the female left. During the summer we normally have about 25 swallows on the electric line over the garden this year there was only one swallow, the male.
One day in July it rained and some swallows came back briefly but left again for the rest of the dry summer.Towards the end of August on a NW wind swallows arriving from Ireland or SW England began to build up and for 2 weeks they dined well on fat flies which are abundant now and preened their feathers and it was wonderful to see them. There were about 53 before they all left on the 6th September. On the 8th about 9 swallows arrived and left after a small rest. I have read there is a good population of swallows in Ireland possibly they did better there this year. I hope they have a better season in South Africa.
6 September 2018 – Comber, Co Down, N. Ireland – I think my breeding pair of Swallows and their 4 young have left for sunnier climes! They only had one successful brood this year, after attempting earlier in late June. It’s been a strange Summer! They took a long time to settle, and had me totally confused as to what they were doing! After fledging, they all stayed around for about ten days, but I’ve not seen them about the farm barn for a good few days now. On checking in the barn tonight I can only assume they have left.
Last year they were here until early October?!
4 September 2018 – An update from Wherwell, UK – 3 of the 4 the young from the second brood continue to roost at the nest site (see photo) with 1 bird missing and probably predated. The female continues to roost with them but the male failed to return last night for the first time and so is presumably now with a communal roost and preparing to leave. General numbers in the area remain high but large numbers of swallows are gathering excitedly on wires and showing plenty of pre-migrationary behaviour.
1 September 2018 – Barnsley England – This year the swallows were late in arriving and only the pair at the back of the house arrived. There was no sign of any Birds at the front. However, the pair that did stay raised two clutches of young healthy birds (eight in total).
The weather has been good and plenty of insects to feed themselves and the young. The Barn Swallows left for the return journey South on the 29th of August 2018 which is unusual as they usually leave on the 12-15th of September.
Well i will have to wait 32 weeks for their return.Hope you continue with your survey.Peter Clarney
1 September 2018 – Czech Republic – I tried to take some pictures of our barn swallows. I live in Central Europe in a town called Ceske Budejovice (also known as Budweis) in the south part of the Czech Republic. This summer we had an incredible amount of these sweet little birds in the town centre where I live. They loved building their nests in the arcades. Some barn swallow couples had even three broods, which is incredible. One couple was even nesting in our corridor in the building. I hope they will have a safe flight to the south.
28 August 2018 – Wherwell UK – The four young from the second brood left the nest last Thursday and are continuing to be fed and cared for by the parents. A hobby has flown past a few times and I saw it chase (and miss) a House Martin last week so the babies will be vulnerable if it visits again. The weather has really cooled down and I expect the adults to be on their way south as soon as they are satisfied that the young can fend for themselves. Will let you know when they leave, the babies will probably continue to return to roost at the nest site for a while beyond the departure of their parents.
25 August 2018 – York (Sutton-on-the-Forest), England – I work in an office housed inside a converted farm building and each year we have at least two pairs of swallows nesting on average.
On an evening the roller shutters come down leaving a small opening allowing the swallows access to the outside; during the day they are normally busy flying in and out feeding their chicks and will often fly into my office if I leave the door open to have a look round and often land on top of my computer monitor I like to think to say hello with their constant chatter.
I saw the first arrivals this year 2018 on the 13 April and it is with great sadness I have to report they left yesterday 23rd August which is three weeks earlier than last year; my goodness it’s quiet now!
There was only one pair nesting this year and only managed one brood as opposed to three last year.
I always mark their arrival and departure dates in my diary to compare.
2012 arrived 6th April departed 27th September 1 pair 1 brood
2013 arrived 8th April departed 30th September 3 pairs 3 broods each
2014 arrived 8th April departed 30th September 3 pairs 1 brood each
2015 arrived 14th April departed 16th September 2 pairs 1 brood each
2016 arrived 13th April departed 30th September 3 pairs 2 broods each
2017 arrived 21st April departed18th September 1 pair 3 broods
2018 arrived 13th April departed 23rd August 1 pair 1 brood
21 August 2018 – Wimborne, Dorset, UK – Very odd season this year, our swallows returned inspected the nest, staked a claim fought off others then didn’t have any broods at all this year. We saw them everyday even visiting the nest site in the barn. We have had an extremely strange year for weather and the extreme heat didn’t give us the same quantity of insects:
One of our TV shows about nature said that some Migrating birds may not even have young this year due to the extreme conditions . Last year they had three successful broods all fledged. We are still seeing them at the moment but guess it
Won’t be long till they leave us again.
I hope they have a safe journey back to you and I will wait in hope for next year
19 August 2018 – Cornwall, UK – It’s with a touch of sadness I send this report. It’s now two weeks since our second broods flew, and I have today checked the nests, and unfortunately for some reason they are not going to have any third broods.
This does seem a premature end to their season, as the UK weather is still warm and settled, and we normally have birds fledging in early October.
I must report that I have in the last week or so, seen small groups of Swallows gathering on telephone wires, and small groups leisurely flying Southwards, obviously migrating. We don’t normally see this behaviour until September. With lower numbers of Swallows, House Martins and Swifts arriving this year, I was hoping that with the fine weather we have, nature would take its course and make up the numbers.
Still, we have the pleasure of the six adult birds returning each night to roost on their respective perches, so we can ignore the drawing in of the evenings, and carry on enjoying the summer in our garage!
Will let you know when they leave us for Mount Moreland!.
John & Pauline.
17 August 2018 – Yorkshire, UK – Thought I would give you a belated update on our Barn Swallow feathered friends. The second brood have fledged and we appear to have 15nr total from our barn with slightly fewer from our neighbours so about 30nr from the hamlet in total. This is slightly less than we have had in the past and may reflect the very dry summer we have had up to about a week ago, when we started to see a change to a westerly air stream which brought some rain and cooler winds. The Swifts have reared 4 young and are already on their way South as I type, but the Swallows obviously are still here, but are alarmingly starting to show early migration trends ie lining up on the telephone wires – bit early yet for them to leave, but a sure sign that they are getting ready. I will try and get some photos of this nearer their departure date which is about 3 weeks off. We have only got 2 broods which is standard for Swallows up here in my observation, but the broods do seem to have been a little smaller by maybe 1 chick, not sure why maybe shortage of insects with the dry weather. It has been noticeable that we have not had as many dead insects on our car windscreens when driving around this summer so far anyway, this may change with the coming of rain. Will as I said send photos when migrants are about to leave.
14 August 2018 – Mount Moreland, South Africa – First swifts have arrived. Angie Wilken
13 August 2018 – Wherwell UK – All seems well with the second brood. The young are 2 weeks old and growing fast and there appear to be 4 babies this time. After my observation that the female seemed to be doing the lion share of the feeding, both parents have since been bringing food in diligently. Will let you know when the young fledge after which it won’t be long until the adults start to leave for migration. All Swifts left here at the end of July and will be over central Africa by now I expect.
6 August 2018 – Cornwall UK – During the last week our three second broods, producing three, four and five birds have fledged, bringing our total new arrivals so far this year to 20.
The weather here continues fine and warm. We had a slightly emotional start to the day to day, as early this morning we counted fourteen swallows perched on the telephone wire outside our bedroom window, a sure early sign that Mount Moreland beckons !.
As it’s still early August we are hoping for some third broods, which would hopefully help replenish numbers. Fingers crossed, will keep you informed.
Regards. John & Pauline.
5 August 2018 – I live in Southern Spain and my house is called Las Golondrinas (The Swallows) They are everywhere inside and out. They all left last week except a family just a 2 weeks older than Louise’s and another a month older.
Two of the younger ones have fledged but two are refusing to leave the nest. Yesterday and today the other family have joined in try to persuade them. First they fly by and shout at them. Half an hour later they try gentle “come with us were your friends” so far non of it is working.
I have joined in and left the big glass door open all night and all day……which is a struggle for us humans as Spain and Europe are in the middle of the hottest weather ever 40 plus in the shade.
4 August 2018 – France – This morning at 10am l returned from Boulogne Sur Gesse and at this time of year the place is a live with swifts and martins and to surprise not one insight.
Has there been any other information coming in?. Regards P.J.B
4 August 2018 – Ireland – Every year the Swallows return to existing nests in the very top of our barn where Irish’s stable is. The mother bird has already raised one brood and returned recently to hatch out a second batch. The night before yesterday there must have been a raid on the nest (usually Magpies in the UK) and the three babies were turfed out. I found this little one the next morning limping around the floor of Irish’s stable. I almost scooped him up as I mucked out as I thought it was a nugget of poo. Goodness knows how Irish had not trodden on him.
There was no sight of the Mother and at that stage I could only find one baby. He looked almost dead and had damaged one tiny leg. I made a nest out of hay in an old, small plant pot and force fed him the whole of yesterday and gave him water. 24 hour on he is bobbing about, stretching his wings, screaming for food and his leg seems have healed. He can now perch on the make shift beam we made for him.
This morning I found his siblings in the stable next door. One was dead and the strongest of the three was bobbing about that stable floor but his Mother had returned and was feeding him from the ground. Now that my one is so much better, Graham may well try tonight to return the two of them to the nest and hope the Mother may take over again. The problem is the nest is so very high that we need huge ladders to get up there.
I am feeding him tiny pieces of cat food, dead flies, ants and pieces of worm. He takes water off a spoon!
3 August 2018 – France – Thought I’d send you a photo from a theme park we visited during our holiday in the Vendee region of France last week.
The park is part of a regional project ( called ‘No Spring without wings’) to protect barn swallows and their nest sites and it explains why they do not remove nests from the swallows’ favourite nest sites in the park-the toilets! Good to see something like this within such a large park where they will have so many other priorities.
31 July 2018 – Mount Moreland South Africa – First sighting of Lessor Striped Swallows – Angie Wilken
30 July 2018 – News from NW France; We have two nest sites but only one was used this year . The first brood arrived earlier than other years (the swallows used an old nest so that saved them a good couple of weeks) I was unable to count if they had 5 or 6 fledglings as they did not stay around at all, after 3 or 4 days they disappeared. Other years they have lived in trees nearby, but this year they went further away. We have had 7 weeks of very very dry and fairly hot weather. Streams have dried up, no mosquitoes this year. It has been silent. No swallows chattering away at lunchtime. Last week was particularly hot. All the roofs in my area are made of black slate tiles, these heat up and as there is no insulation underneath, the second nestlings and the wrens nestlings all sadly died of heat last week.
I always try not to intervene but I wish I had moved the nest now….Next year we will block their access into the top roof and leave the ground floor nest sites open. The weather broke 2 days ago with storms and rain.. Then sudenly all the local swallows came back.
Numbers are low in my area compared to 5 years ago, but I have 24 swallows on the line outside, the same number as 2017. This should build up over the following month.
27 July 2018 – Blajan, France – on the 24th July swallows & martins were making their way back to there winter quarters is this normal. ?
We live on a flight path here in France and at the end of the season we are entertained by hundred of them feeding. Regards P.J.B.
Again the swallows & martins are flying over, going in the direction of S.W. Towards the Spanish border which is 17 KS from here. L will continue to keep an eye open (Monday 3. 30 PM 30 July.) Kind regards P.J.B.
23 July 2018 – Barnsley England – As I reported that the Barn Swallows arrived a little late this 27.4.18 2 weeks to be precise. The pair that nested in my front porch never returned. However, the good news is that the pair at the back porch have reared 2 clutch’s of 4 young swallows, the last clutch left the nest yesterday and are flying round. The weather has been kind, rather hot and plenty of food for them as the farmers are harvesting so there are plenty of corn flies for them. I may be pushing my luck but there is a possibility they may get another clutch off as there are six weeks left before they migrate.
I will notify you of what happens. I do wish I could ring them
20 July 2018 – Irthlingborough, Wellingborough, UK – I wish this wasn’t the case but I feel I need to report that for the first time in the 26 years since I have lived in my house, we have no swallows at all this summer. I live next to a farm, overlooking what is actually a nature reserve (a river valley that floods seasonally with pasture that is grazed by cattle during the summer). Until the last few years, we have been used to hundreds, if not thousands, of swallows, sand martins and house martins filling our skies each summer. Last year we did not have many of these birds at all, no sand martins or house martins and only a handful of swallows. I hoped it was a seasonal blip but this year for the first time ever, we have no sand martins, house martins OR swallows at all (I haven’t included swifts as they have never seemed to like this area for some reason). I am so sad about this loss. I truly hope that next year, some may decide to come here but now that no new chicks have been born in our area, I wonder if we have lost them forever..
Mrs Gillian Starmer
20 July 2018 – Cornwall UK – We have four Barn Swallow nest sites in the neighbourhood where they have not returned. Around about the House Matins seem to have suffered as well. We normally have two nests undercover eaves, they have not returned this year. and they are missing from several houses where they normally nest.
As I said, the exceptionally cold weather we had in March over Europe when migration had begun may be the cause ??
I had a special moment today…..I was repairing our garage roof up a ladder, with a small hole in the wall just below my face. The birds are in full feeding mode and one must have thought..here’s a short cut out ! and came out of the hole wiping his wings across my face ! You can’t get closer to a Swallow than that, a real privilege.
16 July 2018 – Cornwall UK – Our three second broods have hatched, two with five and one with four, and feeding is in progress. The lengthy slightly unusual warm summer weather continues, and there appears to be an abundance of flying insects. Will keep an eye on the pair that had a failed first brood. All looking good at this time.
15 July 2018 – Wherwell UK – Our barn swallows have finally settled on a change of nest for the second brood and have returned to the one favoured in the previous two seasons. The photo shows the two artificial nests: the one on the right is the nest used for the first time for this year’s first brood but it has an accumulation of feces on the rim from the first brood of young which has made it unusable for a second brood I think. The nest on the left is smaller and untouched by me from the last 2 seasons but has been relined with feathers by the female this week and a first egg laid today. I was advised not to clean them out over between seasons but will definitely do so this winter given both are quite dirty now. Interesting in building a new nest ended soon after my last update.
10 July 2018 – Wherwell UK – The adult Swallows have seen off the first brood of young (I’m always surprised how quickly they go from dedicated parents to aggressively attacking them and telling them to ‘leave home’!) and are now preparing for a second brood. However they seem to have rejected the artificial nest used for the first brood and they’ve not gone near the one used for the last two seasons at all this summer. They have started to attempt to build at the other end of the carport but have only been bringing in straw which suggests this prolonged hot weather has dried up all mud in the area. I have made some mud and put it in the carport for them and will monitor. If they do not use this I will transfer a nest from the alternative nest site in the cover over our drive (which hasn’t been used now for 3 seasons since we had a second pair) and put it up where they are trying to build.
Will keep you updated.
7 July 2018 – North Yorkshire UK – After a good break we returned to higher temperatures in the UK than the Mediterranean ! We have had good weather since early May but the heat tuned up in late June and July with temp in high 20°c by day and 17°c on average at night. As I type we had our last rain here on the 8th June and before that it was early May, so things are a little burnt in Mrs Mac garden, though as we are lucky and have bore hole water we do get to turn the sprinklers on and not feel guilty ! Anyway our Barn Swallows have had their first brood, and these have fledged, and currently we have 6nr young from two nests. Other neighbours barns have all produced similar numbers. We are now seeing further mating activity, so a second batch of egg laying should be underway soon. So far the heat does not seem to have caused them any concern, and we have built some water features into the garden this winter, as well as having natural spring water that they can access where it comes out of the hill behind our house, so hopefully all this helps. Swifts have yet to have had any young as far as we can ascertain but it is not so easy to count them. I noticed from the cuckoo tracking website that all the tagged birds are streaming south back to Africa with none now left in the UK. Other than the above nothing really to report. Deia in Majorca produced its normal crop of Swifts but I have never seen Swallow their in June anyway, and on my own travels I have not been in Barn Swallow country anyway. I will try and get some photos of the new birds when I get back from next trip.
All the best
3 July 2018 – Cornwall, UK – Our exceptional warm summer weather continues with no forecast of an immediate change, we are getting av daily temps of 25*C.
Our three pairs of Swallows completed their second brood egg laying today, conveniently all three pairs at the same time, and sitting has begun. One pair are using their first brood nest and have five eggs, the other two pairs are both using different nests, one pair have five eggs, the other pair four eggs. Will report again on hatching.
1 July 2018 – Update from Wherwell Hampshire, UK – The young Barn Swallows fledged last Sunday 29th and for the first time we had 6 chicks. Unfortunately 1 has since disappeared, probably predated, but 5 healthy young are doing well. Parents continuing to feed them today but also showing signs of preparing for a second brood with lots of singing from the male and enticing the female to the nest. The weather has been warm to hot for a good month and is set to stay that way. Will keep you updated.
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