Saturday, 16 May 2015

Day 194 - Swirlingly Swishy Swallows

Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Hey everyone, it's Day 194 and I've got one of my favourite birds today. I've been looking forward to this post as the alliterations are great too! Trouble is they have been really difficult to photograph being so quick but now I've seen them in a few places this year and I've managed to get a few good photos. Later in the year I'll probably get loads of better ones as they gather on the telephone wires around our house, we get loads just before they migrate. Today I'm going to cover the lovely Swallow.

I've seen them around my village, but they have been feeding quite high up until lately, I've also seen them at Lake Gormire and today at a place called Camp Hill near Bedale. I went there for a post exam treat and my friend and had a go on a Segway trek, which was great fun!!, but also the Swallows were flying quite low.

So I did my research on these lovely birds and here's a little of what I found:
One that sat still for a minute!

  • As I mentioned above they migrate in the winter so they are only resident in the UK during the Summer but they are seen all over the UK!
  • Our birds tend to head to South Africa for the Winter, a journey of 6,000 miles!
  • The RSPB lists them as an Amber status bird as their population has declined across Europe over the last 30 years. 
  • Happily though Birdlife has them as a species of least concern as they have a very large range and a global population of around 190 million birds.
  • In the UK there are an estimated 860,000 breeding territories.
  • They are 18cm long, have a 34cm wingspan and weigh only 19 grams - amazing that they can fly to South Africa!
A chase at Lake Gormire
  • They typically live for 2 years but the oldest bird was recorded as being 11 years 1 month and 1 day old!
  • They eat insects that they catch on the wing, and are especially fond of catching flies for their young.
  • Swallows are extremely agile and I love watching them as they chase insects and sometimes each other - a couple of my photos here are of a little chase I saw at Lake Gormire.
Are they playing or courting?
  • There is quite a bit of folklore associated with Swallows - 'one swallow does not a summer make' , 'Swallows high - staying dry', this last one though is due to where they are feeding and is only really an indication of the weather conditions at the present time.
  • Prisoners would sometimes have a swallow tattoo to show 'they had done their bird' and sailors would have swallow tattoos to show how much they had sailed, one swallow represented 5,000 miles, two 10,000 miles and so on!
  • They appear in the folklore of a lot of countries - in Denmark: stories tell that swallows told Christ on the way to the cross to 'cheer up', in Germany: told women that if they step on a nest would not be able to have babies, in America:  if a swallow is harmed harvests will be poor......
  • I came across two very appropriate collective nouns for Swallows, they can be described as a gulp or a flight of swallows!
So, a lovely bird and also very interesting, if you want to find out more try these sites:

Hope you enjoyed,


1 comment:

  1. I absolutely love Swallows - they're so pretty and sweet! - Tasha