Tag Archives: Barn Swallow

Feeling The Heat

The purpose of our “Selfies” is to try and capture the feel of the day. These are from December… Great long shadows and it is cold and windy.

Selfie

SelfieNow this is April…

SelfieHer mud is drying up.

MudThese are my holiday snaps and I have been on holiday for a long time.

There may be trouble ahead….


I wouldn’t like to be that Rat when Fizz the Great War Dog gets a’hold of him.


She just needs to practice a bit, she is warming up.

Oh yes, I have bought the Goldfinches a nyger seed feeder.

Nyger feederThey are loving it and empty it very quickly. I will do more about that in another post.

On the subject of birds. The Bullfinches have stopped using the feeders but they are still around. We have an Apple orchard at the bottom of the garden and I think that they are drawn to the buds there.

Disappointingly the Long -tailed Tits have gone. Like the finches I think that their comings and goings are related to the natural food supply but I don’t know what has drawn them away.

The little Robin never came back. There are still lots of Robins about and sometimes I look out of my door and shout, “Come on! One of you must be Christopher.” No, he has gone.

But all of that fades into absolute insignificance because when I opened my door yesterday I heard a song that filled my heart.

Barn SwallowNow I know what they say, that “One Swallow does not a summer make,”  but that is rubbish, it is summertime now 🙂

There is something that I have got to do this year. Swallows pair up for life, each autumn when they leave they separate and then in the early summer when they return they reunite. It is something to witness and I have got to video it this year. They are so excited to be reunited, like little puppies and it doesn’t last for that long but for a little while there is a great video waiting to be made.

Barn SwallowI am going to love hearing their song again.

The little Mud Eaters beat the Swallows back by several days.

House MartinI didn’t really do the House Martins justice last year, they don’t nest outside of my front door like the Swallows but I will try harder this time around. I love their little feathered feet.

I like a little heat.

SelfieWildflowers then, there is so much going on that I don’t know where to start.

Walking along the country paths it just looks like a mess of green…

MessUnless you know it.

Cow ParsleyThis little leaf is the Cow Parsley and in a few weeks it will be painting the most beautiful pictures.

Cow ParsleyThat reminds me of another April challenge. The St. Mark’s Fly.

St Mark's FlySo called because the adult flies emerge around April the twenty fifth (St. Mark’s Day), these are the ones with long dangly legs that trail behind them when they fly.

St Mark's FlyThe challenge is to photograph the female, I just could not find one last year. They only live for a couple of weeks and the window of opportunity is a small one.

But back to the present, this leaf is the Hogweed.

HogweedForget any misconceptions that the name might suggest, this one is a very beautiful flower.

HogweedAlso the large, saucer like, flower heads are an absolute magnet for insects. I am finding my first flowers now and it will be here until the very end of Autumn.

I have got to leave the wildflowers for a bit because I have got to take Fizz for a walk, I will come back to them. While we are out I am going to upload some wild animal videos for you to watch.


These are female Fallow Deer (Dama dama) They are just losing their winter coats and so they look a little bit tatty but they are healthy animals.


This week the trail camera returned 180 videos over two days and nights. 136 of those were of my little friend the Fox but I also got 44 clips of the deer in the daytime, a nice return.

This is the same spot that I videoed the Boar in last week and it is proving to be a good place to set the camera. As well as the Deer, Fox and Boar I have been getting clips of Badgers, nothing exceptional but it is good to know that they are there. I feel happier if I can say that I am putting the camera out to film Deer, they are hunted just the same as the Boar but there isn’t the same hysteria and people are much more likely to go into the forest to look for Deer.

This location is not in the Forest of Dean, it is woodland some way outside of the forest boundaries and the Boar here are the animals that the Forestry Commission have been kind enough to drive out of the forest as they attempt to disperse them across the whole county, or country even.


A few other things that are good about this location, apart from the fact that it is rich in wild life, It is an unmanaged Sweet Chestnut coppice, I wouldn’t normally like that because there is very little else that grows in such a coppice but it does give me quite good views of the animals. This is also a Bluebell wood and that will make a nice backdrop and nobody comes here. I have filmed a lot here and have never picked up Dog walkers or anybody at all, that makes me feel quite safe about leaving the camera out. I will continue to film here for a few more weeks.

Okay I am back and Poochy has been walked. It is quite blustery out there today.

Back to the wildflowers. I like them because they are beautiful…

Ivy-leaved Speedwell(Ivy-leaved Speedwell)

Ivy-leaved SpeedwellFizz likes them because they make a nice soft bed.

Fizz in BedGet off the bed!

I am very pleased that I got pictures of the Town Hall Clock buds last week because this week there were no buds to be found.

Town Hall ClockAnother flower that has just appeared…..

Remember the diminutive Harry Bittercress (Cardamine hirsuta)?

Hairy BittercressThis is the girl of his dreams, Lady Smock and if you think, like Harry that she looks good enough to eat, well, she is.

Cuckoo FlowerCuckoo Flower or Lady’s Smock (Cardamine pratensis). The leaves and flowers are the best bits to eat, they  have a peppery flavour that adds a lot to a herb salad.

Cuckoo FlowerBoth she and Harry are Cardamines and they can cross pollinate but  will she, wont she? That is what Harry would like to know.

Cuckoo FlowerA couple more “firsts” for the week, this little splash of pink is Herb Robert.

Herb RobertLast year I was able to find this one in flower throughout the winter but this year, this is my first.

Herb RobertI have also seen my first signs of the spathe of the Arum Lily.

Wild ArumThere will be much more of these flowers in the weeks to come.

Well it has been a long post and you must be feeling pretty tired.

Tired FizzI have just got one more wildflower to do today and then we can play ball.

FizzThis is Hen-bit Dead-nettle. I found it growing on my steps when I got home.

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettle

Hen-bit Dead-nettleI will try and find it in more picturesque surroundings.

Goodnight Fizz.

Selfie

 

Summer Birds

We are having a storm here but it is quite a nice storm with strong warm winds. Warm makes all the difference.  It has been blowing all night and so I found myself sitting outside at four o’clock this morning enjoying the wind buffeting the trees.

I am kicking off with birds today and perhaps the weather will brighten up in a bit. I have seen some beautiful birds this year.

RobinUnlike the butterflies I don’t have to say goodbye to the birds. A couple of lightweights have gone south, fair enough but winter is a wonderful time for watching birds.

Here are a few birds that have featured here this summer.

The Great Spotted Woodpecker.

Sizewise it is about as “great” as a starling. Quite a small bird but it has wonderful presence. The female turned up about a month before the male and made herself at home.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerShe was on the feeder every time that I looked out of the window.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerEventually the male started visiting us too.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerGreat Spotted Woodpeckers don’t really eat peanuts. As a species they are totally dependant on dead wood habitat and the insects that live therein.

The juveniles visited us for a few weeks but their arrival signalled the end of the visits. They have been missing from the garden for the last couple of months.

Great Spotted WoodpeckerMeanwhile… out on the waters edge…

Mandarin Duck

Mandarin DuckMandarin ducks nest high in trees often in old woodpecker holes. Once hatched the chicks have to leap out of the nest and plummet thirty or forty feet to the ground because they are ducks not woodpeckers. They are very light and survive the fall. It is a spectacle that I would really like to video.

Mandarin DuckMeanwhile out on the farm….

Red Legged PartridgeThis is a Red Legged Partridge, an introduced species. Introduced for the shooting they are quite common here. My bedroom overlooks fields and I can actually lie in bed and watch these birds through my window but I still have to get out of bed to get decent pictures. No situation is perfect 🙂

Red Legged Partridge

Red Legged PartridgeGoldfinches played a major role in our summer. My new landlord’s favourite bird, he had never had them in the garden. They love sunflower hearts and I filled the garden with them.

Goldfinch

Goldfinch

GoldfinchThis is a juvenile Goldfinch.

GoldfinchGoldfinches were not the only birds breeding here. The one that got the most blog space was the Barn Swallow. There are lots of swallow nestling videos on this blog but for me the best bit was when they first arrived.

They are supposed to mate for life. Some of the birds are just finding their mate. Some of them are  reuniting. They fuss over each other so much. It is lovely to watch.

Barn SwallowIt would do no good telling me that birds are not capable of emotions. They greet each other with all the excitement of a puppy meeting it’s owner. I have also seen them mourn when they have lost a brood. These are very emotional birds.

Barn Swallow

Barn SwallowThroughout the summer we had all manner of new arrivals, too many to show them all here.

BlackbirdBlackbirds raised a brood in a tractor.

BlackbirdDespite a very wet start to the year the Blue Tits were also very successful.

Blue TitBlue Tits have a large brood and all of that feeding can leave mum feeling a little bit frazzled.

Blue Tit(This bird is actually just moulting, perfectly healthy and happy, or it might be a Zombie Blue Tit, they do happen, I think 🙂 )

The bird that had the greatest success was the House Sparrow. They can have several broods in a year and our birds had a constant supply of food this summer, they made the most of it.

House Sparrow

Blue TitThere are dozens of them and they have been moving around the farm in small flocks. So much so that I was beginning to worry that I was upsetting the balance of nature… Until today that is…

Blue TitI filled the feeders up three days ago and they haven’t been touched, something is wrong.

SparrowhawkThis Sparrowhawk has visited the garden a couple of times this year. He hasn’t stayed very long and hasn’t caused any big problems. It is nice to see him.

I saw him or another just like him this morning. Now he is in his full adult plumage and looks quite beautiful. (no photos yet)

SparrowhawkTo have had any impact on my Sparrow hordes he must have taken up residence or more likely his presence is just keeping the birds away from the feeders. Today I am on Sparrowhawk watch.

Sparrowhawkand looking forward to a great winter of wonderful birds.

Escapism

Buddy escaped from the farm.

BuddyBy the time he caught up with us I had come too far to want to take him home.

I was here to set a Badger camera up.

Badger CamI think that they have moved into fields East of the farm but they should still forage here. I have found a nice tree on the East side and tied a camera to it and hope to have some results soon.

My Badgers have escaped the cull. It is not happening here. They started killing animals last Tuesday. They killed 921 Badgers last year and they have gone back to kill some more this year. The people who live there will probably never see another Badger. If I lived there then I think that I would just move. Nature has been destroyed.

The Dogs messed about while I did all the hard work setting the camera  up.

Puppies

Puppies

PuppiesThis is another escapee. This one has escaped from a garden.

CotoneasterIt is a Cotoneaster but I have no idea what species. It isn’t native to the UK but several moths use Cotoneaster as a larval food plant and birds eat the berries. It is also a good source of nectar when it flowers.

CotoneasterThere is only one Cotoneaster species native to the UK and this isn’t it. Called Cotoneaster cambricus, Wild Cotoneaster is restricted to a very small area of Wales and there are only six plants left. There is a species action plan and people are keeping a close eye on these last few plants which don’t seem able to naturally regenerate.

Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster

Cotoneaster

CotoneasterMore red berries and these are Rose Hips.

Dog Rose HipsRosa, Rosa, Rosa.

She has gone and taken her family. She left on Wednesday only days after Chicklet took his first flight. She has escaped our winter for African sun. Other bird song is filling the evening air now.

They will be back to do their courting all over again. I will look forward to their return. They are great characters.

Barn Swallows

Barn SwallowsSomeone else who  escaped this week, the House Martins have also gone.

I was reading about House Martin migration just recently and amazingly nobody knows where they go in the winter. We know that they go to Africa but not where in Africa, they just get lost. The BTO are fitting birds with little devices that measure the amount of daylight, they can determine where they have been from this and hope to solve the mystery.

House MartinAnyway Roses.

Dog RoseThat smooth beardless hip above is from a Dog Rose, this next one is something different.

Rose HipRoses are very difficult if not impossible to identify in the field. There are twenty different species of Wild Rose in the UK and they hybridise easily, so you can’t tell what sort of a Rose it is any more.

Well that is what I am told. It all depends on how accurate you want to be. Ten of those twenty Roses are sub species of the Dog Rose and you can’t easily tell them apart.

Okay but as far as I am concerned this is a Dog Rose and that is  good enough.

Dog RoseThis is a Field Rose.

Field RoseMost of the others are rare and I am not going to worry about them unless I am lucky enough to find one.

There is a common white rose called the Burnet Rose but that grows by the coast and I am not expecting to find it here, it has black hips.

There is one other very common Rose that I should find here and  that is the Sweet Briar Rose. It has a pink flower with a pale white centre and it  has bristly hips. I am hoping this is it.

Rose

Rose

RoseIt is in the same field as the other two species but on the opposite side. I didn’t notice any Roses over there in the summer or maybe just didn’t look closely enough but this is one to have a proper look at next year.

I am going to finish up now with some more red berries. Just before we got back home I found this Hawthorn festooned with Old Man’s Beard and I had to photograph it.

Hawthorn and Old Man's Beard

Hawthorn and Old Man's Beard

Hawthorn and Old Man's Beard

Hawthorn and Old Man's Beard

Hawthorn and Old Man's Beard

Hawthorn and Old Man's Beard

Hawthorn and Old Man's BeardThat’s enough escaping for one night.

Fizz

Chicklet is

Winter is coming. Some of the Swallows have left already….

Some of them. Rosa and her family are still here.

I am not exactly sure when the others went or even if they have all gone. If I stand around outside my front door I get dive bombed by seven Swallows  (Rosa’s family) but yesterday when I was filming Chicklet I became aware that there was no activity in places where I knew other Swallows were nesting and when Rosa took her family off there were no other Swallows in the air. Some of them have left.

(I have just been out for a walk to look at other nests and there are still quite a few birds about they just seem to have thinned out a lot)

This could be the difficult time. I knew that Rosa wouldn’t leave without Chicklet. Now the question is how soon before he is  ready to go? He only fledged yesterday.

Of course Fledging isn’t just about a single flight. The parents are still feeding him and they keep bringing him back to the nest.

Two Swallows came here from Africa, when Rosa and Fred leave they will be taking five new ones away with them. Swallow numbers don’t double or treble every year, if they did we wouldn’t be able to see the sky by now, their numbers stay pretty static. Some of the seven Swallows that leave here won’t be coming back. I don’t know which ones but it is a very long and hard flight to Africa and many perish on the way from exhaustion and starvation and some are taken by storms.

That is how it has to be or the sky would be blacked out. Nature has a balance.

Chicklet made Rosa very happy and today he is making her happy, that is all that anyone can ask for.

He is beautiful.


He needs a few weeks yet to build up a bit of strength and get used to his wings. That shouldn’t be a problem, it is very early for the Swallows to be leaving and the weather here is getting better.

I am pleased that Rosa and her family will be staying around for a while yet because I will sorely miss them when they are gone. 🙂

Until next year.

Rosa’s Chicklet

This is just a brief update on Rosa.

I haven’t been watching her closely. I can hear her singing away outside of my window so I have known that everything was okay with her new brood I thought that I would give them a few days to grow.

This morning I put the camera out to watch them and I got a bit of a surprise. There is only one.

That is very good news. Less work for Rosa and the chick will get more food and stand a better chance.

I still don’t think that the chick has much hope. It won’t be fledged until a week into September and the birds usually leave in September. We could do with a heat wave to keep them here for a couple of extra weeks but it is freezing cold today.

I woke up this morning and put a T shirt on because it is August and pretty soon I had to put a shirt over that and now I have got  a body warmer over that Brrrr. Maybe I am coming down with something.

Good news though and it is a cute one. 🙂

Born too late

Rosa has been acting strangely and I was concerned so this morning I set out my camera to watch her.

For new readers, Rosa and Fred are Barn Swallows. There are lots of swallows around the farm but these two occupied a nest just outside of my front door and I have been watching them all summer.

They raised their first brood very successfully and that was well documented on this blog. You can see them fledging in the “Destiny” post on the sidebar.

Barn Swallow Nestlings

Their second brood died. I don’t know why but Rosa started crying. There is a call that she makes that is unlike the normal happy chirrup. I first heard it when the first brood were fledging and she tried to encourage them out of the nest. It  is how a Barn Swallow calls for her young. At first it was a joyful sound as she encouraged her brood to flight but when she lost her second brood she called for them constantly.

A couple of days after she started crying I found two dead babies under the nest they had been thrown out. She kept crying and they built a new nest just opposite the old one after about a week it became obvious from the smell that there were still dead chicks in the old nest.

She cried for about two weeks and then she stopped. She lost the second brood a month ago. For the last two weeks she has been sitting on the nest. I could pretty much guess what she was up to but told myself no it wasn’t possible.

This morning I had to set the camera up and check. I wanted to see if the other birds were feeding her. It is worse than that.


So why is such a joyful and happy event as a new brood such bad news? Because it is too late for them. There is no time for them to build the strength that they will need for the flight to Africa.

If they had been fledged a month ago they would have struggled, the second brood always do but hatching now they don’t really stand much chance. They have to cross the Sahara Desert.

I think that Rosa and Fred will be all right. Swallows don’t put on much weight prior to migration, they feed on the way so the distraction of a new brood to feed won’t do them much harm and they are happy again. Anyway she was pretty determined about what she wanted and maybe the young ones will get lucky.

It is good to see them happy today and today is all that anyone can really ask for.

Fred (The Barn Swallow)

I have had to modify my plans a bit for today. It is beautiful and sunny outside and I am stuck indoors.

There are amazing things going on in my kitchen cupboard.

Anyway I decided to take a break from pacing back and forth and I stood outside to feel the warmth of the sun and Fred lit down on the gate just feet in front of me. He waited while I  took his picture and then he sang a little song for me.

Good old Fred.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

What is happening in my kitchen that is so exciting?

I will tell you later…. 🙂Peacock Larvae

Bird on a wire

Sorry if I haven’t got around to visiting your site yet, I will do soon. I am just having a slow start to the day. An hour here or there shouldn’t make that much difference, should it? That is what I am telling myself 🙂

I have been watching my birds.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn SwallowRosa has been getting my attention. I was wrong about what she was doing. She has constructed a new nest and the reason is obvious now.

As my landlord commented to me this morning, “I think one of your birds has died, I can smell the beggar.” Yes there is an evident smell in the passage that they nest in. I picked up two dead chicks from under the nest a couple of days ago and at the time I wondered where the others were. They are still in the old nest. She must have been unable to throw them out and that explains her distress. She was still crying yesterday but she is okay today. I haven’t heard that call once today.

She has built a new nest on the opposite side of the passage. All of the birds helped make it. I saw the young from the first brood collecting grass and twigs for it.

This is a very short video of Rosa on her new nest. I want it for the song, This is the joyful sound that has filled my flat all summer.


It is very short but I can just keep clicking replay and I am happy 🙂

The bird in the pictures above was an adult male (long tail feathers) this next one is one of this years fledglings.

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn Swallow

Barn SwallowYou can tell the new birds because they don’t have the long tail streamers yet. Go on, show us your tail.

Barn Swallow

Barn SwallowThank you 🙂

Barn Swallow

Rosa and Fred (A love story)

This is Rosa. You can recognise her because she has lost a tail feather,  She lost it ages ago and you can see that in the videos of the first brood.

Barn SwallowRosa has been very unhappy, she lost her babies.

This is Fred, he has much longer tail feathers than Rosa. Fred is a bird with a plan.

Barn Swallow“We can try again”

Oh! Fred, Fred, Fred. There isn’t time.

So now Rosa is happy again.

Barn SwallowShe has spent the morning nest building. Not a new nest she is just freshening up the old one and making it a bit bigger for a new brood.

Barn Swallow

Barn SwallowPoor Fred.

Barn SwallowHe just couldn’t bear to see her so unhappy, couldn’t bear to hear her crying. She was driving me nuts, imagine what it must have been like for poor Fred.

Barn Swallow

Barn SwallowI don’t think that there is time for them to have another brood now and for the new birds to build their strength up for the flight to Africa which they must make. What can you say?

How do you say no to such a beautiful and unhappy lady?

Barn Swallow

Barn SwallowYou say it like this Fred, “No! N.O. spells NO! No!”

9bBuild your nest. My love is always with you and at least you have shut her up.

Barn Swallow

Happy chatter again. 🙂

So it goes

There isn’t going to be a second brood of Swallows, she lost them.

You would think that Dr Dolittle syndrome would be a wonderful thing, if you could see the animals and understand them and know what they were saying just from their voices, wouldn’t you?

So her voice changed. Her song fills my flat from morning till night it is inescapable and has been one of the great joys of this summer.

I went out to look and the whole of the first brood and both parents were swirling around in the air right outside of my front door which is also outside of their nest.

I set up a camera to watch the nest and for over an hour no bird visited the nest. So I reset the camera to cover a wider area. All of the birds were flying in constantly and getting very close to the nest but never making contact and they just kept doing that.

The female started crying. There is a call that she makes it isn’t musical it is repetitive and harsh and sounds like pleading. I have recorded it and I will let you listen in a minute.

The only time that I have heard this call before was when the first brood were fledging. She used this to call for them, to encourage them out of the nest and to come to her, this is how a mother swallow talks to her young.

(the first part of the tape is the other birds chatting, you will know when the mother bird calls)


That is the sound of sadness. She cried constantly yesterday but it has been a bit less today.

I picked up two dead birds from underneath the nest today.

I have no idea what killed them but I think that they died in the nest and were cleaned out today. I don’t think that it was a predator. That’s life. I cleaned up the dead birds in the hope that it would help her to forget them. I like my flat full of happiness not sorrow.

I have been to a lot of trouble to choose the very best flowers that i could find for this good bird. I took these pictures years ago on an old camera and I have photographed these roses many times since but I like the retro look and I think that my pictures express the love that I feel.

Get over it. You are going to Africa.

Rosa canina

Rosa canina

Rosa canina

Rosa canina

Rosa canina

Rosa canina

Rosa canina

Rosa canina

Rosa canina

Rosa caninaSing to me as I sing to you and fill my little flat with joy.