May 2019

15 May 2019 – Sleaford, Lincolnshire, UK – Hi plenty of open skies here but alas 15th May and NO sightings yet. Boo hooxxx.
Rita Jones

14 May 2019 – Cornwall, UK –  Our first pair that arrived early in April have just hatched their first brood of five. The two lone cock birds that I mentioned previously have at last both found mates, and both pairs began egg laying this morning.
Whilst we now have the same number of returnees as last year, looking around our area sadly at several sites the Swallows have still not arrived.  Also the number of House Martins is still well down on last year, and up to today I have not seen any Swifts at all. Will keep you informed of progress. Regards John.

13 May 2019 – Penzance, UK – I’m dismayed that here near lands End, Cornwall I have only seen 5 or 6 swallows in the valley, with solitary birds unpaired. We wait in hope that more will arrive.
Bridget Syms

13 May 2019 – Preston, UK – Hi just to let you know me and my wife Kath went for a 3 mile walk around our village, this weekend, going past 3 farms and across many fields, we counted 11 swallows the biggest group was 3, last year at this time we would except to see 3 times this amount, will let you know if things improve this week as the weather is just right for them.

13 May 2019 – Walmer Bridge, Lancashire, UK – Please find attached photo of our swallow sitting tight on 6 eggs in our garage.
Kind Regards, Greg.
Barn Swallows May 2019 Walmer Bridge Lancashire UK

12 May 2019 Wherwell, UK – After unsettled and cool weather delayed things, the female has begun egg laying with two eggs in the nest this evening. Will keep a close eye on progress and keep you updated.
With regards to some of your other contributor’s concerns about low numbers of hirundines, I’m pleased to say that I’ve not noticed any reduction in swallows and house martins this spring. The swifts, however, are definitely low in number at the moment but hopefully just delayed by the recent weather.
Best wishes

12 May 2019 – North Yorkshire, UK – To my enormous relief they’re back this morning! I don’t think that last weeks cold, wet weather will have helped with a north easterly blowing as well. Today’s perfect for them, much warmer, a SW wind and with the wet ground the air’s full of insects so there’s some intense feeding going on.
Very best wishes,

11 May 2019 – Preston, UK – Just to let you know our swallows are now sitting on a clutch of 6 eggs ! They are going to be very busy in 16 days !!!
Our weather is ‘set fair’ for the coming weeks, and insect life is abundant! Please find attached photo of our male swallow perched on the washing line outside of the garage.
Kind regards,
Barn Swallow Preston UK May 2019

11 May 2019 – North Yorkshire, UK – The news from Wensleydale is dire at the moment. A perfect afternoon with millions of insects in the sky and no birds to be seen except our winter residents.They must return next week. The alternative is unthinkable. Jake

7 May 2019 – Barnsley, UK – just to report that the second pair which nest on my front porch has arrived this morning nearly a month late. Very pleased to see them.

6 May 2019 – Newton Ferrers Devon, UK – We had half a dozen swallows turn up check out old nests and disappear! Our 500 year old house has hosted them for generations and I am not giving up hope, our ash trees are barely, out there is little insect life as it is cold, so let us hope they are waiting for an improvement, otherwise if they do not return then we face a future without them which is unthinkable.
Chris Forrest

6 May 2019 – Castelfranco Emilia, Italy – Good morning. I regret to read the low number of arrivals in last two season.. one question…they changed area?? In Italy the barn swallows have already arrived but every year they are less than last year… the poison in agriculture??
Bye from Italy.

6 May 2019 – Comber, Co. Down, UK – Thanks for your reply, and, you were right!! My swallows arrived on the 4th May! I’m so relieved to see them back as it wouldn’t have been Summer without them?!  They look to be favouring the nest that they successfully reared a brood at their final attempt last year. I’ll keep you posted!
Devastating to read on FBK about the millions of swallows and other migratory birds being netted and killed by China and Middle East. It was likened to ‘fishing in the sky’. Heartbreaking, and totally unnecessary!
Best wishes, Helen. x

5 May 2019 – Brittany, NW France – I got shivers down my spine reading everyone’s news asking “where are our swallows this year ?” I thought I was the only one sad I had not birds, I started driving around the countryside and their favorite haunts looking out for them.
We have had a very early and warm spring, but arrivals have been so low. I saw a small wave of arrivals on the 15th April and then again on the 22nd. One very quiet bird arrived at our house on the 15th and luckily another arrived on the 24 April and now we have a pair in the old stable. Sadly the very noisy dominant family who ruled over our house and garden for the last 8 years have not returned.The RSPB have released a single of birdsong in the British charts this week (99p to download) to highlight the loss of 40 millions birds in the last 50 years. So a slow start to the season compared to recent years and yes low numbers but at least we have a few and lets hope the weather will be favorable to them this year. Regards Ella

5 May 2019 – Truro, UK – “hi” .. I live in the middle of a field in Cornwall with a stable block and, in the last five years, have been both delighted and yes, proud, to accommodate some 20 mating pairs of swallows .. however, as of today (05/05/2019) I am disheartened to observe just ONE returning pair .. Q: Does anyone know (quite) what might have (or) has been happening here please(?) Thank you, Inconsolable Chris!!

4 May 2019 – Crymych, Wales, UK – I am concerned about the late arrival and low numbers of the swallows here in Wales.
Last year for the first time we did not have swallows on our property. It is sad indeed not to see them nesting. I too fear that something is affecting their number and migration. Thank you for offering a site for us to register our observations and concerns.

4 May 2019 – Bloxham, Oxfordshire, UK – Very sad that our two pairs of swallows have not arrived this year. I’m beginning to give up hope! For the first time in 20 years we don’t have swallows in our barn and the sky seems very quiet! Our neighbours pair of swallows have arrived on 22nd April. We usually have up to 40 on our roof before they start their migration back in Sept/Oct which is quite a spectacle , but doubt that will be the case this year. Haven’t seen any others along our lane either. Is this because of the cyclone across Africa or the storms across Spain/Portugal? Does anyone know?
Michele Norton

 3 May 2019 – Stoke on Trent – I only have one pair returned this year, my kennels used to be full of nesting pairs and I have seen very few on my travels in other parts I fear a swallow disaster. can you reassure me.
Jill Llewellin

April 2019

30 April 2019 – Comber, Co. Down, UK – I have been patiently waiting for our pair of Swallows to arrive at our farm….still waiting. They are very late. There are a few swallows about, but very few compared to previous years. The skies are eerily empty? I have, however just seen a Swift fly over the house, which is very early?? They don’t normally arrive till mid May! the sand martins are busy at the local quarry, so where are my swallows?? Feeling sad. 🙁
Helen Stewart

29 April 2019 – Pebbles, UK – The Barn Swallows have arrived here in Peebles. I usually monitor two farms close bye and for some reason this year the swallows have not arrived at the other farm a few miles away They probably will soon I have never seen this happen before I will still look out for there arrival?
Gary Jones

26 April 2019. Cornwall UK – We still have one pair, and their first egg was laid this morning.
The two cock birds that have been with us for two weeks now, have still not found mates. This is beginning to give us some concern, not only for our birds but for the numbers arriving generally.
We spend a fair amount of time in the garden and keep an eye on the sky, and normally at this time we see the migrating Swallows going by, individually or in small groups every half hour or so, when any single cock birds we have immediately chase any females and noisily try to get one into the garage. But up to now, which is getting a little late, we have seen very few, and our cock birds have had no success so far.
Having read Ella’s entry from Brittany which due South of us, seems to confirm our observations, as our birds would cross Brittany.
I have looked at the recent weather reports for Spain and Portugal through which our Swallows pass, and there has been some very bad weather there. Also recently there has been some exceptional storms in the Sahara Desert, so much so that we have found Sahara dust deposited on our car ! Could this may have affected migration? Also I do wonder if the Mozambique cyclone could have interfered with migration from that area ?
I can understand and share Ella’s sadness when waiting expectantly for their arrival. But then we did some years ago have them arrive late in early May with the House Martins.
I think that they are cleverer than we know, so there is still time for their arrival, and I will let you know when any more arrive.
Cheers. John.

24 April 2019 –Walmer Bridge in Lancashire, UK – We now have a pair ! The female arrived later the same day as the male. They are now busy renovating the old nest.
Kind Regards, Greg.

22 April 2019 – Barnsley, South Yorkshire, England –  Just reporting that a pair from the family that has been nesting in my back porch for a number of years arrived 6.30 am on Monday 22.4.19 (about 9 days late) very pleased to see them. They woke me up chitchatting on the telegraph wires outside my bedroom. I hope a pair arrive to my front porch. There is time yet.
Thanks will keep in touch
Peter Clarney

22 April 2019 – Cornwall UK – “I’v got a nice new box, now I just need a mate”… ..and with a tail like that he shouldn’t have to wait long !
We now have a pair that have lined a nest with feathers ready for laying, and two cock birds looking for mates, which they have been doing for over a week now. Hopefully their mates will return soon.
We are experiencing some exceptionally warm weather for April, 23°C yesterday, so if mates arrive soon we could look forward to a good season. Will keep you informed.
Kind Regards John.
Nesting Barn Swallow Cornwall UK April 2019

20 April 2019 – Falkirk Scotland – Barn Swallows sighted at Falkirk Wheel, Forth & Clyde Canal, Falkirk Scotland on Saturday 20th April 2019
Anne Kelly
Barn Swallow Falkirk Scotland on Saturday 20th April 2019

20 April 2019 – South Nottinghamshire, UK – Hope all is well with you. Swallows are a bit later in South Nottinghamshire this year. I’ve been waiting patiently!! Yesterday 19th, saw the first one in the village of Willoughby In The Wolds, Notts, and today 20th, at Stanford on Soar just over the border of South Notts and into Leicestershire.
So happy to catch the first glimpses!!
Best wishes

20 April 2019 – Yorkshire UK – Please see photos of our returnee and customary celebration. Also some colleagues left some nice vapor trails which signifies how we feel about
having them back ! Will send more photos when more arrive. We are having a wonderful spell of warm weather here with southerly winds so hopefully more will arrive soon. The Swifts do not arrive until late May normally but I think I am right in saying they fly literally none stop as they can sleep on the wing so to speak.Enjoy your autumn.
Kind regards
first Barn Swallows Yorkshire UK April 2019

19 April 2019 – Wherwell, UK – The female arrived today. I first noticed at around midday today when the Male, in full song, dived into the carport followed by the female. Plenty of excitement and enticement to the nests ensued as always seen when they first re-establish the pair bond at this time. It is settled and warm here currently though possibly cooling again next week so quite how quickly they begin nesting will probably depend on how much it cools down. Our House Martins are now returning too so it is really feeling like Spring at the moment.
Best wishes Tom

19 April 2019 – Yorkshire, UK – First two wanderers have returned and look in good condition. One is obviously an older bird with long tail feathers and notably larger. The other could well be one of last year’s young judging by size, and smaller tail feathers. Both went straight to the barn, and then went and sat on the telephone wires for a good preen and are now inspecting their respective nests .They were not here last night so can only assume they arrived this morning. Anyway it’s good to have at least two back and we await more to arrive hopefully. I am not flying myself until next week, so I can enjoy a glass or two of White Burgundy to welcome them back tonight.
Happy Easter, Cheers

19 April 2019 -NW Brittany. Still no swallows at our house. Hardly a swallow to be seen in my area. I waited until the 16th April as we were promised great weather.  On the 16th in the afternoon I went out driving in the countryside and yes some swallows had arrived that day but very low numbers.   Today is the 19th We are well into a heat wave, there are flies a plenty and we still do not have any arrivals.  In my village we had 10 swallows last year now there are 2.  In the local town there were 20 last year, I could only see about 3 yesterday.   I remain hopeful but I am very very sad.  When they arrived on previous years they make so much noise and fly around us and now its so quiet.

17 April 2019 – Preston, Lancashire, UK – Our first swallow arrived this afternoon. He is now fast asleep in the garage ! This is the earliest ours have arrived. Hopefully his mate will not be far behind. There are a good number of swallows now arriving in our area. With warm weather and good Southerly winds forecast, this ought to hasten more arrivals.
Kind Regards, Greg.

11 April 2019. Cornwall UK – If anybody out there wishes to give the Swallows a helping hand, or is trying to attract them to a new site, or even would like them to move from above your car, my trusty nest box invariably does the trick. They seem to take to it readily as they find it saves them the more difficult task of sticking mud to the side of beams.
See attached photographs. It’s constructed of say 10mm ply screwed together. The base is 150mm square, the sides are more or less as you see plus a perch.
The critical measurement is that it should be fixed with the centre of the base 150mm down from the underside of the roof, no more.
Anybody can make it in an hour or so. By the way, don’t paint it with anything.
Good luck. John.
Barn Swallow nest from wood Cornwall 2019

10 April 2019 – Northern Ireland – Both my husband and I were sitting outside on an early/mid April day, we’re experiencing a lovely spell of weather here in Northwest Ireland, he thought he’d Seen a Swallow earlier on in the day at their usual nesting colony, we both saw a male Swallow chasing after flies ( of which seemingly are plentiful, after the aphid exploration) as always, we broke out the sparkly wine in celebration of our wee swallows triumphant return to their birthplace. I will of course, keep you informed of their progress here throughout our summer, best wishes, God bless, Val and Paul Moran.

8 April 2019 – NW Brittany, Begard – Well despite bitter cold northerly winds, hailstone showers, and temperatures of 2-7°C. I saw the first swallows in my area perched on the telephone lines. What dreadful weather they flew through surprised me. I have seen just a few more in the last day or so. Mine have not arrived yet, the wind is southerly today so perhaps they might turn up soon. Regards Ella

7 April 2019 – Amelia, Va, USA – Don’t know if you can shed any light on this, but I live on the east coast of the USA. I live on a farm and have always had barn swallows which I love. Have had them for at least 35 years. They always come back almost on the exact same day – March 28 – March 31. However, it is now April 7 and I have not seen any. What do you think might have happened. Thank you for any insight you might have. Liz Mills

REPLY: There could be many reasons for this and I will list a few
1) Development along the migration route
2) Weather,this will impact food availability
3)They are just late!

7 April 2019 – Wherwell, UK – Our male  arrived back this morning  and spent the day in and out of the carport. He went in there to roost quite early this evening and I’ve taken a distant photo as I didn’t want to disturb him. This is a full week earlier than his arrival last year which was April 15th. Great to see him back for what I think is his fourth summer. The female showed up around the same time as him last year so he may be alone for a few days yet.
Best wishes Tom
Barn Swallows arrive Wherwell UK April 2019

6 April 2019 – Cornwall, UK – Following the arrival of the cock bird on the 3rd we have had two days with max temps of 4 to 5 degrees C, with rain and sleet on the 4th Ap, The bird leaves us at daybreak, and is not seen all day. Where he goes to find insect food in a temp of 4°C and rain and sleet remains a mystery. He returns at dusk and nestles down into last years nest. I have put a small heater in the garage to hopefully take the chill off the air.
Anyway he has survived, and today Saturday, the temperature has risen to 12°C and he has spent the day in the neighbourhood, occasionally perching and singing on our telephone wire. We now hope that the weather continues to improve and his mate arrives soon to give them a good start to the season.
Best Wishes. John.

3rd April 2019 – Cornwall, UK –    As Tom has said, we are having a very cold snap at the moment that is unfortunately coinciding with our early arrivals. On checking the sky this evening, standing in the garden with the temp at 5°C and forecast to fall to 3°C tonight, our hopefully first cock bird appeared overhead, circled, and swooped down into our garage and nestled down into an existing nest for the night.
We have snow showers forecast for tomorrow, with sunny intervals and a temp max of 8°C ! The temp is forecast to to gradually rise to 12°C by Saturday, so if he and all the other arrivals can feed themselves up to then they should be OK. I do wonder how they find flying insects when it is so cold ?  I shall be eagerly waiting his return tomorrow evening and will let you know hopefully that he returns safely.
Regards.   John.

1 April 2019 – Wherwell, UK – I hope you are well and have had a good summer. I noted from your updates that you had some very hot weather. I am sorry that your swallow season did not last longer and I am sure you are concerned about the reasons behind this; very disappointing for you as I think this is the third year in a row that the season has been short lived?
Our winter was fairly mild overall, save for a cold spell at the end of January and into February when we did have some disruption from the snow. We then had an extraordinary spell of warm weather at the end of February which saw temperatures close to 20°c which was around 14°c above what it should have been! There were some early swallow arrivals recorded at this point-presumably birds that had lingered in Southern Europe and were tempted back early by the warmth.
The weather during March was changeable and at times stormy but the last 10 days have been settled and it has warmed up. The clocks went forward an hour at the weekend and it’s great to have the light evenings returning. Various summer arrivals have been coming in and today I saw my first 3 swallows fly over the house. One was singing so these were probably local birds. It’ll probably be a couple of weeks before our birds return to the nest site (hopefully!) and I’ll let you know when that happens. We are due a cold snap from tomorrow until the weekend which always seems to happen when the first swallows arrive.
All the best

March 2019

31 March 2019 – Local organization protests demolition of abandoned stables in Hadley USA

23 March 2019 – St Georges de Reintembault, Brittany, France – Hope all is well with you. One male swallow has returned. We spotted him on the 20th March; it was a beautiful day and so lovely to see him. He is still around and we see him every morning sitting on the cable outside our house. He just needs his mate to arrive. It is very early to see swallows; they usually return here about 6th April.
All the best,

23 March 2019 – Hluhluwe, South Africa – We have been working at Bonamanzi Game Reserve for 2 years and been noticing an increased number of barn swallows. It’s not yet anything like I used to see at Mount Moreland or at the Gonubie Nature Reserve outside East London in the Eastern Cape, but there are thousands in the evening.
Shona Anne Lawson

20 March 2019 – Hollister, CA, USA -Barn swallow arrived March 20 around 6.30PM. The nest at my front door was built in 2003. Ever since they have come every year around this time. We love them! Joyce Richman

18 March 2019 – Machida, Tokyo, Japan – 3 Barn Swallows heading NE. 11am 18th March 2019.
Loyd Berry

11 March 2019 – West Palm Beach, USA – Just back from visiting friends in West Palm Beach, Florida, went out of the house one morning last week to be greeted by a small & noisy flock of swallows making the most of the flies & bugs about the pool, our friends were thrilled as they were the first sighting since their American swallows left to go South for the Winter last Autumn.
Cathy Cooper

5 March 2019 – I live in a village known as Walmer Bridge in Lancashire, UK. – Our house is approx. 200 mtrs from my childhood home where as a small child we had a number of swallows nest in our assortment of cabins and stables. it was my desire when I married and moved to our present home to have swallows nest there too. With this in mind I situated a number of cabins, this was around 30 yrs ago. Not a single pair of swallows has ever looked at nesting in any of the cabins !

However, in July 2015 (which is late in the season) a pair arrived, presumably having been made ‘homeless’ elsewhere. They flitted from the dogs cabin and our very modern sectional garage trying to make up their minds which offered the best building site. they chose the garage ! That first season they raised a brood of four and left in mid
September. We waited anxiously to see if they would return the following year. They did ! Both birds arrived together 1st May 2016.

They had two broods of four, all successfully fledged, leaving at intervals in September. In 2017 both birds again arrived together at 0830, 24th April. Five eggs were laid and the young reared almost to fledging, when we had a terrible spell of cold, wet, windy weather. There were no insects to be had, and all young died in the nest ! I removed the dead young. Soon after, the adults laid again another 5 eggs, all hatched and fledged !

2018 saw the male arrive 19th April, however it was not until 5th May that the hen bird arrived (or maybe this was a new partner the cock had
wooed) All that time he was roosting in the garage and during the day spending much of his time perched on the aerial singing his heart out!!! They laid four eggs, three hatched and fledged. The second brood again saw four eggs and only three hatch to almost fledge, then quite suddenly all three disappeared from the garage. there was sign of distress and disturbance. We think maybe a sparrowhawk had entered the garage and predated the three young. The adults remained with us, leaving separately August / September.

We now await a return within the next few weeks.
I have just been in Limpopo Provence for two weeks and it was enchanting to see swallows around and think that they may be ‘ours’ on the way ‘home’!!!
I shall keep you posted !!
Kind Regards,
Greg Roskell.

Reply from – Comber, Co. Down, Northern Ireland – I’ve just read Greg Roskell’s post with interest. Greg, I suspect the culprits of your Swallow’s chick predation was more than likely Magpies as opposed to a Sparrow Hawk. My Swallows have lost broods to Magpies….usually just a few days before fledging!! Magpies are cunning and clever, they will wait until the chicks are of optimum size before taking them! However, I am onto them now so they better watch out!
Helen Stewart

February 2019

26 February 2019 – Mount Moreland – Temperatures soared to 40°C today, I have never experienced heat like this ever. Angie Wilken

25 February 2019 – Naturalists concerned for early-emerging spring species in UK – This is all to do with our unseasonably warm weather we have at the moment, but as you can see Swallows have arrived in the West Country already.
Cheers Mac

19 February 2019 – Spain – Your baby’s are arriving.  As always, since I moved into this house in the mountains of southern Spain, promptly on St Valentine’s Day 14th February, the first swallow arrives.  Sometimes he is alone and sometimes a pair arrive.  I think I am right is thinking it is a he as he sings non stop for the first hour of arriving.  Later I think I never  hear that excitement in his voice of the joy in seeing his home is still there.

Over the years we have added little luxuries, like perches between the wooden beams they build their nests on, so they can sit close to their lady when proclaiming their ownership of the area.

For several years now they have had a problem with the nests falling down and this year I have realized why.  We have had an increase in the small rivers close by flooding.  Now instead of the river bed and the banks being muddy they are mostly sand.

A few of the more intelligent birds who live inside our house, overcome the problem by building their nest on top of some square spot lights we have.    Those birds who live outside do not have that facility so this year we have put a number small wooden platforms for them to build on.  I am so pleased to say that it has met with approval, because the first 3 swallows to arrive have chosen to sit on the perches closest to the platforms to sing.

Best Wishes Pauline

9 February 2019Barn swallow season NOW CLOSED 9 February 2019 – Due to very low numbers and no roosting – Please revisit in November 2019

2 February 2018 – See the bird song on a cold day – forwarded by Hilary Vickers
see the song1

6 February 2019 – Denmark – Photo Svend Jørgensen
Barn Swallows Denmark 2018

January 2019

5 January 2019 – Richards Bay, South Africa – I have a home on the Mzingazi Golf Estate. Richards Bay.There seems to be a new arrival of barn swallows nesting in reeds on edge of the weer. Never have we witnessed them before this season.Oh what a sight each evening.I have observed them at Mt Moreland many times.Maybe could this be a new migration site?
Lesley Gove

1 January 2019
New Year 2019