Sunday, August 16, 2009

Last of the year

It was bound to happen, I forgot. No tell the truth, yesterday I overlooked the “Title” and the “Label”. Wish I was a techie whizz kid. Better luck this time.

I dashed out between the morning showers to ring the remaining two broods of Swallows, a three and a four, all nicely sized, feathers still in pin.

What a great species the Swallow is for birders and ringers. Apart from the fact that they are simply fantastic to watch in action, they are pretty easy to study, even on a fairly basic level of contributing to the Nest Record Scheme.

While writing this I had a quick look on the Ringing Group IPMR database to see how many Swallows I have ringed locally over the years – well over 3000 in total, both full grown and nestlings. I must have been pretty busy at times. Oh for more roosts like the old Fleeetwood ones.

It can be quite time consuming following up Swallow nests in order to ring the young. It’s a case of tracking the nest building and initial egg laying to determine both when the young will hatch and when they are an ideal size to ring. When following one or two locations as I do where there may be several Swallow nests you can bet that each nest will be at a slightly different stage entailing a full notebook of jottings describing the exact location and stage of each nest to minimise confusion and age induced forgetfulness.

It does appear that Swallows have had a good year and although us humans moan about changeable weather, it actually suits most birds, especially hirundines. This year I have no losses to report, not like the last two “summers” when cold and rain took a toll, or even the last hot summer (when was that?) when some Swallows baked alive under metal roofs.

When I look at some of the spots they choose to nest I have to have a chuckle, on a door that opens out daily, on a strip light, on top of a telephone, over a pair of voracious Border Terriers, or in sheds or stables that have the tiniest of entrance points, like letter boxes where they eventually post the young out in reverse as it were. Just look at the pics.

Now the emphasis shifts to looking for Swallow roosts. I had a quick look at Pilling last week where we thought there might be a roost in a maize field and whilst I saw more than eighty Swallows in the immediate area, as the light fell I wasn’t convinced they dived into the maize.

Just before that as from the sea wall I watched the Swallows having a last feed over the pastures, a couple flew twittering over me from the marsh closely followed by a Hobby which went in the general direction of Pilling. That made me think that perhaps the Hobby didn’t see the maize as a pot of food from which to pick a meal but keep looking I shall. Apart from my holiday in Menorca in May that is the first Hobby I have seen in the UK this year but I am sure it is not my last with the species apparently spreading rapidly into the North West and the Fylde.

And if you find a Swallow roost in the Fylde, let me know. Ta. iv>


Pete Woodruff said...

I'll be 'nicking' some of your pics if you continue to put good ones up like these here Phil (the bird pic's that is) that's unless you tell me can't. You do get the credits for them on Birds2blog and that's a free ad for your photographic efforts so let me know.


Phil said...

No problem Pete but I can't promise more of the same unless the birds co-operate.

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