Barn Swallows in Wales | 26 September 2011 Wales: Three new Barn Swallow babies return early today from very bad weather, making their way to rear of the little barn and new perch area put up last year 2010 after the Barn Swallows left. They seem to like it there!

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

Wales Barn swallow remaining

13 September 2011 Remaining Barn Swallows Prepare to leave Wales By Peter John

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

swallows prepare to leave wales
Barn Swallows on lines Wales

Barn Swallows in Wales: One just to show what I think is a good camouflage with colours with two of the three Barn Swallow babies just before flying out, of the now over worked nest.  This third brood are still in the barn today and not flown out yet. Some more Barn Swallow babies, not out of their nests yet just along the road from me in another little barn. Been a very good year for amount of swallows in this area.

Barn Swallow camoflauge

August 2011 Beautiful Barn Swallows nest on a stone ledge By Peter John

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

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Barn Swallow nest Wales
Barn Swallow nest Wales

Barn Swallow fledglings in Wales out and about By Peter John

Two pictures just to show you these cute babies from nest 2, about five Barn Swallow babies all doing well from this nest.

Barn Swallow fledglings Wales
Barn Swallow fledglings Wales

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

Barn Swallows in Wales

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

Barn Swallows in Wales

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

Barn Swallows in Wales

Wales: Barn Swallows want to build a nest on top of a shoe Box By Peter John

shoebox barn swallow

Second Brood of 5 Barn Swallows! By Peter John
Picture today of all five babies now back in first nest on the top shelf after been out doing aero flying exercises for most of the day. They always get back into the nest late in the afternoon as they know that’s where their parents will find them and feed babies. They were flying in the barn yesterday and ventured out again today. Wall nest babies catching up fast.

Barn Swallows nest one babies back to nest
Barn Swallows wall nest second brood

There are six young Barn Swallows again in this nest – second brood. A week behind five or six babies on the shelf nest, but a week in advance of babies in second nest on shelf

Barn Swallows in Wales

Blacksmith’s Barn Swallows Wales: By Peter John

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

Barn Swallows in Wales
Barn Swallows in Wales

Where the Barn Swallows Cross the Ocean By Peter John

This is the direction south that is the Barn Swallows fly en-route as they head back to Africa from Wales .
 No reed beds, only sand dunes as a barrier from the sea which has the second highest tide in the world. Caught on that beach in winter the tide races in faster than a horse can run. But the Barn Swallows are plentiful surveying this area. They do like to be besides the seaside. Must be the swallows that come up from the tip of South Africa by the sea. Reed beds are along the estuary where the river meets the sea. It is also a famous cockle bed beach where river meets the sea.
Barn Swallow crossing
Barn Swallow crossing
Barn Swallows Seek Creature comfort!
Barn Swallows Seek Creature Comforts

Barn Swallows in Wales | Barn Swallow Story from Wales: By Peter John

Barn Swallows in WalesSpring is not far away now in the UK, swallows will return from South Africa. No one knows how many will return.  When they arrive it would be lovely to appreciate the tireless task they have undertaken to reach our shores.

Sadly this isn’t the case. Little swallow might be lucky to still find it’s last years nesting site that probably may now be a new barn conversion with now human inhabitants occupying dwelling. Swallows will still try to enter building confused. Too many times over the years I have witnessed this. For others like farmers in most cases, they know when the birds arrive and when they migrate. In between times they just notice the swallows are in and out searching for food when their young are born. Farmers find the odd swallow that their cat took a liking to, or they lock up a barn door not always realizing a pair of swallows are settled inside with the view of building a nest etc. Farmers are, or have to be pretty hard characters dealing with livestock, so not that sentimental regards bird life, and quote, they’ll manage. Wish I could be more like that attitude.  I wouldn’t worry so much, knowing full well after eighteen years having swallows in my little barn shed, the tragedies that may await them. Some years they are lucky and others not so lucky.

Keeping the happenings and events mainly around my little barn, and not digging into wider welfare of our swallows in outlying districts where they have been over the years things best not mentioned in some cases, but a few things people should understand if you have swallows nesting in your sheds outhouses whatever It would be very cruel to upset any swallows at this stage. If people don’t want them, then make sure there is no possible entrance for the birds to investigate. If on the other hand only to pleased and honored with these little angels of the sky, try and make their stay as peaceful as possible, and be prepared to put up with some droppings from youngsters when born. Parents do a good job removing waste from nests and babies in need of droppings, but cant always be at hand when searching for food. The established swallows get to know where to build a safe nest out of the suns heat with southerly facing roofs, but young ones mating for the first time tend to place nests anywhere in the spring when the weather isn’t that warm. By the time their babies are growing up they fall out of the nests exhausted by the heat from the sun with the nest close against the roof facing the midday heat wave. I have a tin roof over my little barn and the first years were terrible for babies sweltering in wall nest and nests on a shelf. Although not in direct sunlight the tins acted like a radiator. Later I lined the roof inside and put a water sprinkler on the tin-work for cooling the roof on hot sunny days.  In Wales we don’t have that many sweltering days throughout the summer unless we are lucky to have a heat wave, and that’s when the babies cook, especially second broods born in the height of summer. Swallows like to be near farms with cattle for feeding off the big brown flies from cow’s droppings. Also with a stream or river nearby.  The river behind my cottage is full of swallows skimming the surface during bad weather and is sheltered by lots of trees catch insects hovering above the water. Another point of interest is not to be too enthusiastic peeping in and out of swallows dwellings to see what’s the situation, has she laid eggs or admiring the chirping babies when young. Watch them via web cam or video set ups not to disturb them. If they are the same pair or pairs that return each year they in time will accept you poking around. But new pairs you may frighten away and wont return. Never frighten any swallow out from it’s dwelling when it’s dark that could be tragic. Well enough of the do’s and do nots this now is a summery of how I first encountered swallows at my cottage.

It was in 1993 we first moved into cottage in West Wales from another semi rural place near Cardiff. No swallows seen in the years there. Only place where one could see swallows was on or at was farms deep in the countryside. And that’s if the farmer didn’t take a pot shot at you for trespassing. Our cottage had a small outhouse attached where I dumped all my rubbish from moving house. Say rubbish but did consists of metal working machines and casting equipment. Later on through the years to this present day found I could only work with this equipment during the winter when all the swallows had departed. Sufficed the building to the swallows not to disturb them nesting.

In the first year living at the cottage one day seen grass hanging from some electric cables that were secured to the wall and was about to brush it away when a bird entered with a loud screech. That was the first swallow I had seen for over forty years. Couldn’t believe it having a swallow in my little barn. X owners never mentioned swallows used barn. There were no sign of any old nests in there and no wooden beams to build on. Anyway I was thrilled and watched the nest getting bigger over the next week or so. Checked one evening when closing the barn door which now has a cut out to allow swallows easy access, that only one swallow was inside barn perched on a bit of wire supporting my florescent sent tube, and thought strange only one tonight. After three days seeing this lonely one staying overnight with nest not quite completed, I realized the worst. Sadly that was the end of swallow activity that year. It too left after a few days. Sometime driving through the country lanes see dead swallows on the road hit by fast moving vehicles. Also seen babies and parents messing about on the roads either collecting mud to build nests or just strangely resting of all places to rest. Could be the heat from the tarmac warming them up if they were cold?

Sad as I was looked forward to the following year hoping swallows would choose my place again. And they did and to my
surprisefinished off renovating this wall nest. I Had set up video cameras now keeping a watch on the comings and goings of my precious little friends. Trouble was I was getting too obsessed by them spending all day looking at the monitor.

Every thing was going well with the eggs in the nest and me reading lots of little articles regards swallows behaviour.

One evening when the eggs were about to hatch i saw two swallows at the nest site chirping madly. Ho! they must be excited, an egg must have hatched. Closing the barn door that evening I felt ill seeing four eggs smashed on the floor with dead babies splattered about. Cut a long story short gathering information for a later date, another swallow was trying to mate with the female and threw her eggs out of the nest. That’s it, never saw anymore swallows in the barn that year.Barn Swallows in Wales

Following year no swallows nested, only entered bar and must have said no thank you. So never gave swallows much thought for the next year about 1996.  Good news that year a pair came in settled in the wall nest and had two broods. Missed them all in September when they departed for South Africa. Have electric cables outside rear of cottage and masses of swallows gathered on them before migrating. During the winter I decided to make life more comfortable for any returning swallows in the coming season. Made a high shelf out of old timber and sectioned some compartments off with it hoping a swallow might take a liking to the site for nesting. Learn that swallows don’t nest close to another pair in same area from reading books. Well mine after some conflicts did nest close to one another and were using the wall nest plus new nest they built on the top wooden shelf.

Each year is so different never the same. Used to have one beautiful male swallow that cheeped and chirped all day long either in the barn or outside on telegraphs wires. Had him for many years returning and no need for ringing, as I knew him so well. Personally I am dead against ringing, but sometimes yes it would be nice to know if the same birds return. Last year one of the females had mottled chest distinctive features and will know if she returns this year 2011.

Over the years the males enters barn first followed by female a week later. That’s how they finally depart with the male leaving a week before female follows. Usually all the babies have been escorted out long before parents leave, apart from last year with three lots of five broods between two females and only one male the babies flew from the barn in October a week or so after parents left. The last five babies didn’t all leave at the same time, but in twos and threes.

Mostly there are only two broods for each pair during the season, with last year being an exception.

Haven’t all been successful in the past with babies falling from nests or last baby born flying out before it was ready to following his or her mates. Never came back could hardly fly. When observing nests always see four babies almost right up to the time they exercise their wings ready for take off. Then always seems to be the case anther little head will come into view making five babies in each of the nests. This is usually the tragic one that’s left behind while parents are teaching their young to fly properly. First few days they stay out near the cottage for an hour or so, slowly getting longer as the week passes. The parents always return to the barn to check and to feed last little baby. After first brood the young are quickly forbidden to return to nesting site after about a fortnight, where parents will rest for a week before tiding their nest ready for second brood. Also seen them swap nests if a number of nests have been built in various places over the years in the barn

Another thing I found to be careful of is, not to have glass windows left shut. Best cover up windows with some sort of heavy netting. Swallows think it’s a quick exit and smash into that window hurting themselves.

Lone male came into the barn last year, and started to build a nest. When the female flew in a week later she went to the wall nest. Didn’t take that much notice until anther pair flew in and made for one of the nests on the top wooden shelf I made for them. Some time later the wall nest had five eggs in it as did the pair on the shelf. Now the fun begins as when the babies were born the male from the nest above the wall nest was feeding the two sets of babies. They had two more broods each another lot of ten babies with same results. Then these female had third brood and still were looked after by the one male. The lone lager male tried on many occasions to mate or feed babies in the wall nest, but was fought off each time. I can include video footage of this event. Well it was a good year for swallows last year and lone male flew off with the other male followed a week later by the females then remaining babies.

Often wonder what ever happens to them on their way to Africa and hear of some horrible tales of human onslaught of these poor little birds. I have done my part protecting them here in West Wales and it’s not for me to right the world.