Category Archives: Watching Birds

Three healthy, bouncy chicks


Hi Trisha

Just a quick note to let you know that my little robins have produced 3 healthy bouncy chicks.

They had their first family outing to the allotment birdtable today.

I am hoping to get as close to them as I have to the father.

Take care Fiona


Hi Fiona,  How lovely.

I haven’t seen a robin for ages and when I do it’s not very close at all – I see plenty of other birds though.  I bet it was wonderful to see their first family outing.

We do try to take care of these little birds don’t we


This is from a very lucky person –

‘Our’ swallows nest is in the porch.   We watch the swallows through the glass window and we use the back door for 4-5 months

If I have to use their (the swallows’) door I whistle, and have been delighted to hear the nestlings singing back to me this year.  They  fly round me in the veg garden  unafraid.


How wonderful to have a nest so close and how amazing you go to the trouble of using your back  door for nearly half of the year.  But I bet it’s worth it.

I have never been close to a swallow.  We see them high on the wires and zipping about high in the air, but never see any nests, so you are very lucky.  And to have young swallow nestlings singing back to you is something you should record.  I bet no one else has that happen to them



Interesting details of  one set of swallows in England this summer

Swallows arriving late this year Ist May,

Nest building began 9 May, first hatch 22 June, five young, first flight 9 July;

Second family of 3 hatched by 27th August, first flight 2 Sept.

Now the weather is wild, colder, and strong winds, the young sit on the beanpoles or in the porch;how late can they safely leave? 

Their many cousins at the barn down the lane and the 5 older siblings have gone, how does a second family fare migrating alone?

Last year the parents left the second family which had just hatched, to die.  They flew off; at least the parents survivied. I had to take the nest away,  too sad


Thanks for all the information about the dates.

Very sad about the young swallows that are left.  I suppose they have to face nature,  whereas we are shielded from nature  by Supermarkets and shelter + other things.  It’s still sad to think of a young swallows life coming to an end, when if circumstances had been different they had the inbuilt ability to fly  to a warm climate.

Robin, thank you for sending all this interestesting, moving and informative information



Can you help Robin with this question

Does anyone know if the Swallow festival still happens in Rhodes, 

It is to celebrate the return of swallows.

Each year children dress up in cloaks, black back, white front and run through the streets carrying poles with carved swallows on the top.

There is still so much to learn about swallows, tho we have moved on from the idea that they hid in the mud over winter!

Thankyou so much for this website, fascinating


If there is such a Festival I’d love to go.  Does anyone know?  Can anyone help?

Good News on Swallows

Hi Garth, Good to hear from you again and so pleased about your swallow news.


Yesterday I called in at my best swallow site, which is a triple stable block and other out buildings and found at least 10 pairs nesting. Three of them already had young, one brood big enough to ring.

They are a communal lot here and in the beams between stables I found three nest within the distance of my outstretched hands containing eggs or chicks. Normally swallow pairs like a space to themselves.
At another site where they nest in a cellar the chicks were large enough to ring and the female, which I caught was the same bird I ringed almost exactly a year ago. It is wonderful to think that this small bird in my hand had been to S. Africa and back to return to the same nesting site!

My conclusions are that in this part of west Worcestershire we have good numbers back but I do still have some sites where individual pairs have not returned yet. Horses have replaced cattle around here so muck heaps still exist and there are always flies around horses.

Swallows could still be wandering around finding mates as nests do start up later in the seasson. Year old birds have to find a site to start nesting, invariable away from where they were hatched, maybe to avoid a genetic problem.



Garth replied to this post –

and I’m really pleased he did. 

I have seen my first swallow

I have just seen my first swallow.  It really uplifted my spirits.  It was perching on a lowish telephone wire and was singing a lovely toned song.  I stood and watched and it seemed to me it was joyous to be back here safely. 

I so wished I had my video or my little recorder with me so I could capture the moment.

The lone swallow sang and a sparrow  that was sitting on a nearby branch joined in. 

In my imaginings I thought the sparrow and the swallow were telling each other about their winter.

Sparrow saying it had stayed put here and the winter was so hard many of his family died through starvation and being frozen to death

Swallow telling the sparrow about the dangers he had faced – a widening desert, bats that eat migrating birds ,  being caught in traps.

And both were equally ecstatic to have survived and were now enjoying the British countryside.

I’m sure the cows attract swallows.  I have seen swallows diving nearby cows.  We are going to stop milking cows within the next year.  I think the swallows will miss them – I mean miss the flies that go with a herd of cows.  It is strange to think this is the last summer of turning cows out to grass.

More Interesting Swallow Observations

message from swallow lady to Garth re:swallows.  (Below is a link to the article where Garth wrote an article / comment  )
Your observations match mine completely.our swallows(now in 16th year)always nest up on the eaves in  a messy sort of garage.

they fly in through a little open window.

last year was our best ever with approx.  30 fledglings. 3 concurrent nests with 4 chicks each,and then 2 further sequences. Big Daddy with the longest forks sings to me sitting on the Sky dish when I garden.I think that’s his right as he owns the sky.We live in Wales +have a cattle opposite so lots of flies..

The house martins are very different +make the nest under eaves outside with lots of mud +produce lots of darker mess cf. the white from swallows!
I,m not” official,recorder” just a swallow lover.I do read the BTO website though.
  “swallow lady”


I live on a farm and we have been lucky enough to have had someone from the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds doing a Bird Survey.

He’s been very professional and has walked the fields recording the information in a very organised way.

We are both equally interested in the amazing life of birds.

Among the birds he has seen are Curlews,  a  number of skylarks, buzzards, and a short eared owl.

He works full time and does this on a Volunteer Basis.   This survey covers the whole country.

The scheme is good because it combines the enthusiasm of birdwatchers and the interest of farmers to put together a ‘picture’ of farm birds on the land.

This is a great way to identify and then start helping these farmland birds


A little note –  I’ve had a bad knee and a bad back – once  it would have been easy for me to walk round the fields – hopefully I’ll get things sorted soon.

Seagulls, Sparrows and Starlings

Have had quite a few seagulls, starlings and sparrows around today.  The seagulls were in the fields nearby.

Seagulls in the countryside

 Starlings feeding their young (photo taken last year)

Tree Sparrow - see so many every day

The photo of the starlings was taken last year (but not by me) and soon the starlings will be feeding their young  and another year will have flown by.

We get so many tree sparrows here every day. I find it hard to remember that their numbers are in decline. 

When I was in town the other day I saw two or three house sparrows who did not seem at all scared of us humans.  It was in a car park which has a few bushes surrounding it.  On one of the bushes in the car park someone always hangs some bird food out and this always attracts small sparrows and large seagulls

It’s  relaxing to take time to watch the birds and wildlife around, especially on such a lovely sunny day as this.


A thaw in the middle of January gave a break from the cold of winter and gave birds a chance to recover a little.  Bird feeding still went on but there was  less urgency.  Today the freezing weather has returned.

People have been helping feed birds in a lot of ways

At the Potteric Car nature reserve surplus fish from Doncaster Market was left on the ice for bitterns.  The fish attracted one bittern within an hour.

At Far Ings Nature Reserve on the Humber whitebait and sardines were left for bitterns.

Some birds will fare better than others.  All types of birds have been affected by this raw,  cold winter.

Bearded Tits eat seeds in the autumn.  At Blacktoft Sands bearded tits have been eating reed seeds.  This winter the reed heads have been frozen or covered in snow. 

Wildfowl have been looking for any open stretches of water.  Six white fronted geese have been seen on a pond near Scarborough in North Yorkshire. 

Two long tailed ducks, a Slavonian grebe, six brent geese have been seen at Filey Bay.

I know for a fact that Fieldfare have been starved off the fields because of the snow and ice  and have arrived in gardens for food and sanctuary and survival.

I wonder how birds survived in the winter of 1947 – when it was freezing cold.  I’m sure people did not put as much bird food out then as we do now.

Does anyone know?