One swallow doesn't make a summer but it comes close: Brett Westwood explores a much-loved and inspirational bird whose own definition of happiness is a field of cow dung.

One swallow doesn't make a summer but it comes close: Brett Westwood explores a much loved and inspirational bird whose own definition of happiness is a field of cow dung. Mark Cocker is in one such field in Derbyshire; Anders Pape Moller catches breeding swallows in a cow byre in Jutland; Angela Turner tells stories of how we've adored and exploited swallows, Anthony Roberts and Ellie Ness lead a swallow ringing on the Isle of Wight and we hear from Katrina Bradley as she watches swallows in the Nigerian village of Ibaken. Producer: Tom Bonnett.

Available now

28 minutes

Last on

Mon 9 Oct 2017 21:00

Mark Cocker

Mark Cocker is a naturalist and author of 'Claxton: Field Notes from a Small Planet', 'Birds and People', which was a collaboration with the photographer David Tipling, and the New Angle Prize-winning 'Crow Country'.

In 2016, he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate of Literature from the University of East Anglia, where he has recently placed his archive.

Professor Anders Pape Moller

Professor Moller has been studying barn swallows in northern Jutland since 1971. He has pioneered  studies into the effects of radiation on swallows in Chernobyl, cut and added sections to their tails to see how it affects their attractiveness to potential mates, he has measured head sizes as an indication of cognitive ability and continues to ask questions forward our understanding of swallows.

Anthony Roberts and Ellie Ness

Anthony and Vivian Roberts own Haseley Manor on the Isle of Wight where for nearly two decades they have been adapting the grounds to best suit wildlife. Anthony has created areas of water and reed beds, hedges and trees and rough areas all to encourage a variety of birds and made it possible to rig 'mist nets' all over the site for catching birds to ring them.

He leads a bird ringing group at the Manor where he first taught Ellie Ness to ring birds. Ellie is now an A-licensed bird ringer too and, as we hear, a deft hand when it comes to working with swallows.

Angela Turner

Since studying their feeding behaviour as part of her doctorate, Angela Turner has been fascinated by Swallows. She is Editor of the journal Animal Behaviour and has written many papers and books on these birds, including Handbook to the Swallows and Martins of the World (Helm) and Swallow (Reaktion). 

Broadcasts

Quiz: Extinct or Not?

Which of these species have vanished?

Natural History Heroes

Scientists celebrate the pioneers who inspired their work and lives.

Natural Histories Comedy

Humorous perspectives on life from the plants and animals in the series.

10 things we got wrong about dinosaurs

Dinosaur myths, misconceptions and mysteries.