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Showing posts with label swallow. Show all posts
Showing posts with label swallow. Show all posts

Sunday, 16 April 2017

More Swallows

Yesterday, we spotted a couple more swallows. As April progresses there will be more and more until they leave later in the year. The next thing will be the swifts. Screaming swifts to me represent the height of summer and bring joy to the heart.

Cuckoos often lay their eggs in reed warbler nests, so a trip up the nearby lode (waterway) is likely to result in a sighting of a cuckoo in May/June.

Friday, 7 April 2017

Swallows return

Today we spotted our first swallow (bird) this year flying N-S over the allotments behind Burwell Museum at breakfast time this morning. In a few weeks they will be common!

April 7th is one of the earliest times I have seen these up here, although there have been reports in Devon a few weeks ago. There were days when I thought I would never live to see this day. The cycle of life goes on.

See https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/bird-and-wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/s/swallow/

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Swallows - at last

Yesterday, I was questioning if the number of swallows returning on migration was down as I had seen none so far in East Anglia, although there are daily sightings in Devon.

Well, today I saw 2 in Norfolk. By this time in April I have usually seen several, but not this year. I am sure numbers are down. At least I have now seen some.

Tuesday, 19 April 2016

Fewer Swallows?

Usually by this time I have seen quite a few swallows here in East Anglia, UK. They migrate from deep in Africa and I usually see them here from April 7th. In South Devon they are usually arriving by the beginning of April.

Swallow (Barn Swallow)
I know there are swallows around in Devon - they appear every day in the reports - but I am surprised not to have seen any up here yet. I may have seen one last week at Felixstowe Ferry but I was not certain. I definitely saw a house martin.

So, I am beginning to wonder if there are fewer swallows about this year as by now I would be seeing them quite commonly on telegraph wires. Of course, it could just be that I have been unlucky.

Swallows usually fly south from mid-September. They take a long and hazardous trip twice each year. Their forefathers have been doing this for thousands of years. I hope they still do long after I am gone. It is quite humbling really.

Sunday, 4 October 2015

Even later swallows!

Well, this is extraordinary. Today along the River Cam, about 5 miles from Cambridge, I saw 3 more young swallows. It is Oct 4th 2015 today and this is weeks later than I have seen these locally before. There are quite a few in Devon still but this is late for up here. Maybe it is because I am looking for them or these young birds are totally thrown by our mild,warm spell? Anyway, I was very pleased to see them today. There was no doubt that these were swallows, by their appearance, flight and movement in the air.

Friday, 2 October 2015

Late late swallows

A surprise today was seeing 2 late (for this part of the world) swallows at Little Walsingham in North Norfolk.  I was not expecting these at all.  I am pretty sure this is the latest I have ever seen these in East Anglia (Oct 2nd). They were probably a late brood and no doubt our settled warm weather is leading to some confusion!  I am sure that if you actively look for these you will see a few stragglers but most have now left.   A few sharp frosts will soon trigger them to get a move on and head south on their long migration.

Little Walsingham is a delightful north Norfolk village a few miles south of the north Norfolk coast. Lots of the cottages have flint rendering, which is common in north Norfolk.

There are a few religious shrines in the village and a few shops selling terrible "religious tat". These include gaudy statues, probably made in a sweat shop in China. Someone is making fat profits on this rubbish. I honestly cannot believe intelligent people actually buy these, but they must. Thankfully, Little Walsingham is still a lovely Norfolk village and these few kitsch shops do not spoil it.

Monday, 28 September 2015

Late swallows

Today we went for a walk around Wicken Fen and afterwards we ate at the "Maid's Head" in Wicken village. We went all around the boardwalk route and got back in the car when we saw 4 swallows overhead and quite close. This, I think, is the latest time I've seen swallows up here in East Anglia. I have seen them much later in Devon, but most have gone south by now.

As I get older I keep thinking this might be the last time I ever see a swallow in my lifetime. With luck, I shall see them return again in the spring and for many more springs yet to come, but there is something comforting in this cycle of life that will continue long after I return to dust. Many do a 12000 mile round trip and often return to the very same site to nest. Remarkable. My heart sings when I see the first bird migrants back in the spring. I am sure my ancient ancestors, now long dead, watched in amazement just the same.

Tuesday, 22 September 2015

Swallows - not quite gone yet

This morning, there were 6 swallows feeding over the allotments about 200m from our house. These may have been passing through and getting a good feed before the very long journey ahead.

Fair thee well and see you in April, if nature is willing.

Sunday, 20 September 2015

Migrant birds

Around this time most of our summer migrant birds are heading south for warmer weather and more insects. Most swifts will have gone now to return here at the end of April or the start of May next year.

Today I saw a swallow and that may be the last this year. Some young birds may be around for a few weeks and it is just possible some may remain in South Devon and South Cornwall all year. Just a few may survive on the coast where there may be insects near seaweed all year. I once saw some swallows in South Devon on Dec 7th but that is very late. No, most are now gone to return next spring, at least gone from East Anglia. Some travel thousands of miles all the way to South Africa - a truly remarkable journey -  often returning to the very same next site they left. Quite remarkable.

The migration of birds is almost miraculous. I am sorry to see them leave but my heart is always glad when they return.

Of course, to some birds we are seen as warm! The Whooper and Bewick swans join us for our winter as do the fieldfares and redwings.

Waxwing
If really lucky, we might even see a waxwing. I keep looking but have failed so far. Some winters there are thousands, but I have not been lucky, as yet. They are often seen on berries in supermarket car parks. You just have to be in the right place at the right time.

See http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/w/waxwing/ .

There is something good in every season.

UPDATE 1750z:  There were 2 swallows overhead in the pleasant afternoon sunshine.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Swallows in Cambridgeshire

The Cambridge Bird Club "What's About" page is now reporting swallows locally again.

Usually I see swallows in Devon in the first week of April, but it is often mid-April until I see them around up here. I guess if you look hard you will see the odd one or two earlier.

The image on the RHS is on the RSPB site and not here. It will be immediately removed if causing copyright or other issues.

See http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/s/swallow/

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Returning swallows

The Devon Wildlife website is now reporting the return of lots of swallows. This is good news. Spring returns!

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Sand martins in Devon

Spring has (almost) sprung! There have now been several sightings of 20+ sand martins in South Devon. These are among the first of the migrants to return. They are the smallest hirundine.  Sand martins have dark brown upper parts and they winter in Africa.  In recent years sand martin numbers have plummeted and they are now on the RSPB's "amber" list.  There are estimated to be 54,000-174,000 nests in the UK. This sounds a lot, but numbers are dropping because of droughts on their migration routes in some years.

By the month end we should have house martins and swallows back in Devon who will have flown 6000 miles to be here in the UK again. When the swallows return here in East Anglia you know all is still well with the world:. they have been making this journey for many thousands , if not millions, of years. Most return to the very same nests they used last summer, if they can. I find the return of the martins, swallows and swifts a real joy. It makes me glad to be alive.

Thursday, 11 December 2014

More on over-wintering swallows

Well, apparently it did happen in 2008 and again in 2009.

See http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/earth/earthnews/3336271/Climate-change-confuses-migrating-birds.html . This details BTO observations of a single swallow in a Cornish village between December and the following February. As our climate warms more swallows may decide to give the 12000 mile round trip south a miss. It is a chancy thing, as a cold snap could see off all the insect food.

The image of the swallow is actually located on the RSPB page linked below. It will be deleted immediately if so linking infringes any copyright. I don't think it does as it still "resides" on the original site.

See also http://www.rspb.org.uk/discoverandenjoynature/discoverandlearn/birdguide/name/s/swallow/ .

From a Yahoo group in 2009:
Records of birds hanging on (over winter) include single Swallows at Penzance and Marazion in Cornwall. The latter site was home to four birds until recently, with an earlier cold spell killing three, and the last bird is surviving on insects in a 20m by 4m patch of seaweed washed up against the sea wall. This is remarkably similar to the earlier winter occurrence of four Swallows at an oil refinery in Pembrokeshire, with a single bird surviving until at least 6 January.
Mark
N Ireland

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Over-wintering swallows?

A swallow was seen in South Devon just a few days ago. I have seen swallows in the South Hams as late as Dec 7th.  It makes me wonder if a handful now stay for the winter, and survive, and do not migrate to Africa? Certainly in places like South Cornwall, South Devon and the Channel Islands this must be a possibility if the weather is mild and there are enough insects around.

I have seen no records for swallows in January in the UK. Such records would tend to suggest over-wintering. Those that remain late could be indicative of very late broods or those that somehow lost (if they ever had it) their ability to migrate and perished when the weather turned colder.

Here in East Anglia, I rarely see a swallow before April 7th. When they return from Africa it is an important day for me. Swifts are usually first seen here around the end of April. Hearing swifts scream in the spring air makes me glad to be alive: it reminds me that all is still well with the world.

At the moment, we are approaching the shortest day with long, dark nights. Long light evenings seem a way off. Mind you, in just a few weeks' time the nights start to shorten and the days start to get longer. We'll blink and it will be spring again.

We are very lucky to have our seasons as each has its special features to be enjoyed.

Thursday, 11 September 2014

Late swallows and house martins

Earlier this week I sat next to the Mere in Knutsford. Cheshire. Several swallows and house martins were seen. Most swifts have now gone south, but it was good to see so many swallows and house martins still around. There was even a nest with 3 young martins in at Little Morton Hall.

In past years I have seen house martins in the South Hams (Devon) as late as the end of October. One year there were still swallows near Salcombe, Devon as late as Dec 7th. Not living in the South Hams, I don't know how common this is i.e. this late. The return of house martins, swallows and swifts is something I welcome each year but sadly at this time of year we bid these migratory birds farewell before they fly thousands of hostile miles to lands with more plentiful insect food. With the Sahara getting bigger their migration routes are getting more and more hazardous. There seem fewer of these birds than there used to be, presumably as more die on migration.

Fare thee well little friends and see you again next spring when the cycle of life goes on, I pray. The return of these little fellows between early April to early May fills me with renewed hope and joy. I tend to have tears in my eyes when the swifts return. I pray I'll be around to see these return in the spring.
http://thesteepletimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/Henry-Williamson-450.jpg
Since my stroke a year ago, these simple affirmations of the continuance of the cycle of life mean even more. I guess I am more aware of how finite our lives are.  Somehow I think Henry Williamson was right about the cycle of life.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Swifts

For the last week or more, swifts have been a common sight on the wing in the skies overhead. Swifts return from Africa around the end of April and the start of May. Usually, most have gone again by late summer, although I suspect many linger in Spain where in September they are still plentiful as are insects.

At this time of year swifts are very common, perhaps more common than many other species. There are a good number of swallows around, but, so far, I have not seen a single house martin. I may just have been unlucky but fear numbers are down yet again. The returning swifts are a real sign of summer. As the poem goes, "all's well with the world...".

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Swallows in East Anglia

The barn swallow has been seen in S.Devon since mid-March, but here in East Anglia they are later arriving, at least in significant numbers. There may have been the odd ones earlier this month.

Today April  23rd, I had my second view this year (first last week) and my first close-up view, close to the River Ouse in Ely. The return of swallows from S.Africa, crossing continents and deserts to reach here, lifts my spirits. Even more so when the swifts arrive in a few more weeks' time.

 "All's well with the world" as Robert Browning said.

See http://www.rspb.org.uk/wildlife/birdguide/name/s/swallow/ . But numbers are declining.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

Swifts, swallows and martins

Swallow (sometimes called Barn Swallow)
For me, spring never properly arrives until these have arrived on UK shores. Sand martins are already being seen in  Devon (first arrivals in March) but swallows are rarely here much before early April,  usually about April 10th in East Anglia. Usually I get to Devon at this time of the year just as the swallows arrive from S.Africa. This year, because of my poor health,  I shall have to give this a miss.

Swifts are rarely here before the end of the month of April. Once here, swifts seem to be everywhere! I love to hear their screams on the wing. To me, the swift is a real summer bird and a sign that "all is well with the world" when they arrive.

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swift

See http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barn_Swallow

Numbers of house martins have been down in recent years.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Late swallows

Barn swallows (source https://sites.google.com/site/thebrockeninglory/ )
By now, most of the adult swallows (now called barn swallows) have headed south on their way to southern Africa for the winter months, returning to our shores in April. At this time there are still a few young swallows around. Only yesterday I spotted several overhead. The latest swallows I have ever seen was a small flock at Bolt Head , Devon on November 7th. I think these were unusually late leaving. Just perhaps they stayed for the winter as in that part of the UK the weather is just about mild enough to provide enough insects.

The long north-south migration of birds beggars belief, especially when young birds make this journey for the first time not having ever done it before. How they travel over 6000 miles there, and then back again, often to the very same nest, is just incredible. A lot must go on inside that pea sized brain.


Tuesday, 13 March 2012

Blackcaps here

This morning we had a blackcap on our bird table. This is a largely migratory bird and I suspect this one had just arrived in from further south in Europe or Africa and was hungry.  It's the first time I recall one actually eating from the bird table. Summer bird visitors are starting to arrive now with the first barn swallows likely to be seen in southern England in the next few weeks. It is around mid April before they appear in any numbers in East Anglia. When the swifts arrive and scream through the evening sky you know summer is really here but that is a couple of months away.