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On December 12th 1988 I watched two swallows flying low over a nearby field. They did several circuits before disappearing off toward the South East. The first two people I told about this said I must have been mistaken, so I kept quiet about it after that.Thank you, WOTM, not only for a great programme but also for proving me right - twenty years after the event! LOCATION: 51.7882,-2.6395 DATE: Wed, 10 Dec 2008 08:07:27 UTC
Amazingly we saw two juvenile swallows happily feeding on 2nd November at the RSPB reserve at Campsfield Marsh in Cumbria. There were still insects around but we are assuming that these swallows are now too late to get to Africa to over winter? House Martins may still be seen at this time of year, we believe, but it is unusual to see swallows, surely?I completely agree with Bridget Wadey- it is a worry that so many nesting sites are being lost. So many farms are losing their barns to housing in all parts of the country. What can be done? LOCATION: 54.9461,-3.2327 DATE: Tue, 4 Nov 2008 19:13:25 UTC WOtM team: Late swallows and house martins are often seen somewhere in the UK in November, but as you say, their insect prey becomes harder to find as winter takes hold. It's possible that these later birds will perish, but milder winters recently mean that late departure is less risky that it used to be. There have been records in recent years of swallows wintering in southern Spain , and even occasional birds in December on the English south coast, but a cold snap will usuallly be fatal. If the Cumbrian young swallows can migrate ahead of cold weather fronts, then they may be successful in reaching Africa. The loss of nest-sites is worrying and as well as the conversion of barns, the tidying up of farmyards also takes its toll. Old manure heaps and cow-byres attract flies which are food for the swallows, but barn conversions are frequently sanitised and not swallow-friendly. Swallows will nest in new buildings as long as these are sheltered, dry places for them to build. Some modern developments are now leaving spaces for swifts to nest in, so it should be possible to design swallow-friendly niches in barn conversions.
Although we are saying goodbye to this year's Swallows we should ensure that they have adequate nesting sites on thier return. Over the last 10 years many old style barns have been converted to dwellings and people are increasingly intolerant of Swallows in garages, another favourite nesting site. What is being done to stop the erosion of the nesting sites, to advise people how to live with them and can you publicise how important every site is? LOCATION: 52.133301,-0.450000 DATE: Mon, 13 Oct 2008 15:16:15 UTC
Sunday 12th October 2008. Swallows at Cranfield Co. Down N.Ireland. After a few weeks of very rare sightings, today Sunday the 12th Oct upwards of 30 swallows seen in the skies at Cranfield BT34 4LQ LOCATION: 54.0417,-6.0507 DATE: Sun, 12 Oct 2008 15:58:13 UTC
I crossed the Bay of Biscay on a small passenger ship last week en route for the Iberian Peninsula & we had some hitchikers on board in the form of small migrant birds, including a blackcap & a young swallow. The swallow stayed with us for a couple of days, dashing out from its hiding place among the lifeboats to catch insects, orientate itself or to stretch its wings. At one point it sat on the bow and I was able to observe it quite well - I think it was a young one as it did not have the longer adult tail. We were out of sight of land the whole time; it stayed with us until we were approaching Oporto in Portugal when it disappeared along with the other hitchikers. I do hope that it found its way to its destination safely. LOCATION: 53.650002,-1.783300 DATE: Tue, 7 Oct 2008 10:56:15 UTC
Last Sunday morning(Oct 5th) while watching my son play rugby (in the pouring rain) in Lutterworth, Leics., a lone swallow spent about 15 mins flying between the boys at ground level. The weather was atrocious but it didn't appear in a hurry to move on. Even though it was raining heavily were the boys activities disturbing insects? LOCATION: 52.4560,-1.2332 DATE: Tue, 7 Oct 2008 07:19:37 UTC
Sue Macdonald, Ystradowen, Vale of Glamorgan
Our swallows left us about 10th September - how we missed their chatter and antics! Imagine our pleasure and surprise when about 13 arrived on our wire yesterday morning, 22nd September, all chattering and very busy preening themselves. How I wish we could in some way have identified them - would they be ours returning or others on their way ever south? Unfortunately I had to go out for a few hours and by time I returned at about 2.00 p.m. silence reigned and marked their departure once again. LOCATION: 51.833302,-2.250000 DATE: Tue, 23 Sep 2008 06:50:51 UTC
Will swallows leave any unready to fly second clutch young if the main pack leave to emigrate? We have young swallows still in the nest, when it looks like the parents have left with the rest. I havn`t seen the parents for two days and none seem to be feeding these young. LOCATION: 51.500000,-0.116700 DATE: Thu, 18 Sep 2008 07:21:31 UTC WOtM expert: Chris Sperring says Swallows usually stay to rear their young to fledging age before beginning their migration in September. However, in extreme cases parents may be forced to leave their chicks early due to adverse weather conditions.
Sometime about the end of June this year, a pair of swallows flew into my living room and because the living room door to the outside is open most of the day they kept flying in. It rapidly became apparent that they had their hearts set on a nesting site inside, on top of the curtain rail! Because this seemed like a bad idea from my point of view I shut the door and they then proceeded to make their way in to the same spot by way of the kitchen. So I shut the backdoor. The next thing I saw, was both swallows sitting on my open bedroom window, - blackmail! So I gave up - I like having the window open and I thought the idea of swallows nesting in a soon to be updated living room was preferable to swallows nesting in my bedroom. Since then they have raised seven baby swallows in two broods in a nest on top of the curtain rail. Every morning before flying off for the day, they come and sit on the door to the kitchen watching me prepare the dogís breakfast and I can get within about a foot from them, and every evening they fly in, and for a short while one of the parents will sit on the lamp on top of the television , and watch me watching the television! - before they all retire to roost on the curtain rail for the night! They were still all here this morning so they havenít decided to leave yet and about half an hour ago - 3.00 p.m. both adults had come back to sit on the curtain rail. LOCATION: 51.500000,-0.116700 DATE: Tue, 16 Sep 2008 14:42:59 UTC
VERY Late FledglingsI have had a pair of swallows nesting under my car port since late April. They raised their first family of 5 as soon as possible after their arrival, and continued to breed. Sadly a cat found the second nest of fledglings and destroyed the nest in its attempt to eat the young.( cat used my parked car as a aramp to leap up to the nest in the rafters.) the pair built another nest and to my amazement laid 4 eggs which hatched on the 25 August, again the nest appeared to come under attack as twice I returned the young to it. however on closer observation given the late hatching time I fear the birds themselves threw the young out. The original family of 5 and 2 parent birds are still here but have all the signs of leaving. Found the last fledgling from the latest hatching lying cold and dead at my back door this afternoon.This must surely be one of the latest hatchings for swallows can you confirm this please and is this normal behaviour. LOCATION: 56.6249,-2.7672 DATE: Wed, 3 Sep 2008 20:57:13 UTC
We have had two pairs of swallows nesting in various barns and who successfully raised 7/8 between them. We have also had other swallows joining the 2 families and I was interested to read that previous years young sometimes join in the defending of the nests. We only moved into our house last October and it has been such a joy and privilege to watch these swallows and hear their chatter - as soon as anyone put their foot on the gravel the warning would be given to those inside the log store where one next was and those inside would swoop past you as you entered. We also witnessed 100 or more on the wires around our house on Saturday, on Sunday we thought they'd left since we only saw 1 on the wire but they were all there again on Monday morning and are still there this evening. We'll watch with interest when they leave. LOCATION: 51.4882,-3.4140 DATE: Tue, 2 Sep 2008 19:52:45 UTC
Saturday august 30. had lots of swallows 200+ around the house on the 2 rooves facing the sun 1pm until sun went round laying in the grooves of tile roof 1 wing held up so sun warming them also faces turned up to sun stayed for 8-10 mins flew of then returned and did the same again and again frantic swooping and insect catching Iive on an arable farm in a village Goodworth Clatford nr Andover. Why were they "sunbathing?" I spent a very happy few hours watching them. Sad they are leaving soon also there were about 20 house martins mixed in.Hope you can explain this for me, Thankyou.. LOCATION: 51.500000,-0.116700 DATE: Mon, 1 Sep 2008 16:01:39 UTC
We have had a family return and breed a clutch of 5. There are now more nests built around the original one and another clutch of 2 has appeared in one of these nests. Would this year's fledglings be breeding themselves already? LOCATION: 52.6331,-2.1506 DATE: Sun, 17 Aug 2008 09:21:26 UTC WOtM team: No, this year's fledglings would be too immature but they will be back next year to breed.
What is the swallow's flight time from perth scotland to south africa? LOCATION: 54.000000,-2.000000 DATE: Fri, 1 Aug 2008 16:12:06 UTC WOtM team: The time a swallow takes to travel between its breeding grounds in Scotland and its winter home in South Africa varies a great deal depending on conditions en route. 4 weeks is a realistic travelling time. However if there are poor conditions, such as sandstorms, it will take the birds longer to travel. Some of the young birds, attempting their first journey south, will not survive the voyage. They may be captured by falcons over the Mediterranean or in Africa, or simply starve through lack of insects. The birds which survive will "learn" their journey and most will return to the same areas in which they were born.
Fewer swallows than this time last year to West Devon and also late arriving. LOCATION: 50.4890,-4.0924 DATE: Wed, 25 Jun 2008 21:09:49 GMT
Comment: Swallows arrived very late to Kilmolin, near Enniskerry in Co Wicklow this year. First sighting was April 30 and there do not seem to be as many as usual. Question: Is there any structure such as a nesting box which I can put under the eaves of my house or shed or in the garden which might encourage swallows to nest? LOCATION: 53.333099,-6.248900 DATE: Fri, 13 Jun 2008 18:22:47 UTC WOtM team: There isn't much you can do to encourage Swallows to nest because they build their own nests in the beams of roofs. All you need to do is to make sure they have good access.
Each year we rcord the arrival of "our" swallows around the 16th/17th of April, this year being no exception.......but......only one pair. This is tragic as far as we are concerned as we have anything between 5 & 8 nests in any given year ,often successfully raising 2 & sometimes 3 broods. I worry about the later brood as they are seldom out of the nest long before the departure of the rest.Is this scarcity something that has been recorded elsewhere this year? Or is it that they are taking a little longer to get to N. West Wales? LOCATION: 54.000000,-2.000000 DATE: Sun, 27 Apr 2008 16:02:20 UTC WOtM team: This is something that has been puzzling quite a few of us recently. Although we do not know for certain, we will be discussing it in Tuesday's programme.
Small flock arrived at Cranfield Co.Down BT34 4LQ on the 2nd of April 08 LOCATION: 54.0562,-6.0370 DATE: Fri, 25 Apr 2008 10:15:48 UTC
just heard your programme on swallows breeding. I grew up in east london, south africa where we had a pair of swallows who nested in our garage for nearly 15 years. we had to leave the garage door open during the day esp when there were fleglings but we had to shut them in at night, making sure they were both in, then had to open it early in the morning (5am!). they used to let us know it was time to come out! they were never bothered by us at all as children we would be in and out of the garage, and they would happily sit on the line we had put up for them near the nest, which was really beautiful and very large all made from mud. when my parents sold their house, there was a proviso they the new owners not break the nest down. I have some very fond memories of those swallows LOCATION: 51.216702,-0.566700 DATE: Tue, 22 Apr 2008 10:26:43 GMT
I have often seen swallow and martin nests in Botswana. The question to which I've yet to find an answer is whether these birds are the same ones that migrate to Europe and, if so, whether they nest at both ends of the journey. LOCATION: 51.083302,0.116700 DATE: Tue, 22 Apr 2008 10:16:51 UTC WOtM team: Yes they are but we don't think they would nest at both ends. Isn't it incredible to think how something so small has to migrate so far?
I saw my first swallow of the year on Friday (11 April). A single bird flying over the train station on my way to work brightened up a dull journey to work. LOCATION: 53.4406,-1.9666 DATE: Sat, 12 Apr 2008 11:46:28 UTC
2 swallows arrived yesterday (9/4/08). They flew in and out of the stables where last years nest sights were. If one swallow doesn't make a summer, does two swallows mean we've jumped from winter to summer. Location Perry Woods, Selling, near Faversham, Kent. ME13 LOCATION: 51.2808,0.9476 DATE: Thu, 10 Apr 2008 21:32:06 GMT
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