The Swallows have returned to Tunstead

One of our keen-eyed residents has spotted the return of the swallows. She said that they have started repairing their nests in preparation of the breeding seasons.

These blue, streamlined, forked tailed aerobats can be seen swooping low over open grasslands, or stooping down on muddy puddles to gather material for their nests.

Like a number of other birds, these creatures are endangered and protected by British Law. But people are encouraged to support them by providing artificial nest boxes in outbuildings. The RSPB offer advice for anyone wishing to know how to go about nest-box provision. They suggest using ice-cream tubs as a substitute nest.

The arrival of the birds is around the occurrence of the Vernal Equinox; mid-March. So, the birds take advantage of the lengthening daylight hours and the increase in the insect population, upon which they feed.

The breeding season in Britain enables the parents to attempt to raise chicks from a clutch of 4 or 5 eggs. So, you will see swallows at their busiest in the early part of their time with us. If they are not collecting mud to build or repair their nests, they are gathering insects for their brood. Later on, after the fledged young fend for themselves, you will start to see them gather in large numbers, usually on telephone wires (where they are most visible) chattering about the migration ahead of them back to Africa. The pre-migration roosts of the now larger flocks around here, is usually the reed beds of the broads. The swallows migrate to areas around South Africa travelling among the African West coast. Years ago, it was thought that swallows hibernated locally. Some people believing that they slept under water for the winter. This supposition was supported through observation by the locals; probably seeing them roosting in the reeds as part of the pre-migration activity.

So keep a lookout for these agile flyers as they swoop low over water or pasture in search of their favourite insect food.

published 11/4/17
This entry was posted in Blog and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.