A record of Swallows
For many people 2020 has been a strange, unsettling and horrible year. There have, however, been moments hope including communities coming together as well as a chance to appreciate nature.
We thought we’d share a lovely diary written by one of our volunteers:
A record of Swallows during 2020 the year of the virus.
When we purchased this barn the front part was used as a hay store. For many years swallows had nested in the store. The farmer had encouraged them, by putting horseshoes in the cracks in the oak beams for them to nest on. We have retained the horseshoes in our lounge, (the store having become our lounge).
We did not want to lose the swallows so tried to get them to nest in one of the other outbuildings. I am pleased to say we were successful, and they have returned for the last 20 years. This year the males arrived very early in April, with the females much later towards the end of the month.
Early May: the swallows have just started nesting and require mud to make their nests –the rain has helped this year -some years in the past we have had to make little mud patches for them.
The problem with them nesting in the feed shed is the mess they make. We would like to move them to share the stables with the horses, which would be better for the swallows as predators, cats and magpies, will not go near them because of the horses and would save us a lot of mess. Their dropping would go onto the horses bedding which is changed daily, also the heat from the horse would keep the chicks warm at night.
There were 6 eggs in the nest all hatched but 2 of the chicks were pushed out of the nest and have died. While I was trying to take this photograph the swallows were attacking me, coming within 1/3m of my face.
The 4 chick swallows have fledged and are flying. The adult swallow and their chicks are attacking the cat and coming with 2-3cm of his head. The swallows this year are the most aggressive we have had they have also chased off the magpies across several fields away from the nest.
The chicks have been in the nest for the last 2 days because of the rain and wind they seem to have got used to me coming within a few centimetres of their nest.
The adult swallows, after years of trying by me, have made their second nest in the horses stable which means that this year’s chicks will nest there next year in the stable. (Hopefully.)
Beginning of July: the first brood of Swallows have left the nest and are fending for themselves.
The Swallows have now started nesting in the horse stable first the first time – so we could we should get a second brood.
1st August: the second brood have hatched, The adult Swallows are work hard to raise 4 chicks. One of the chicks was pushed out of the nest by the other chicks. I have picked up the chick and put it on a shelf in the stable . The adult birds have started to feed it.
It is now 18th September and I have not seen the swallows for the last 2 weeks. They must have gone south.
Hopefully when they return next year it will be better than 2020.
Thank you to those of you who have sent in diaries or continue to record your experiences during this second lockdown. If you would like to contribute a diary of your experiences this year do get in touch. Many diaries will be very personal, so please rest assured that we won’t make anything public unless you give us permission. We can agree to specific closure periods being placed on particular records if considered appropriate.