The Earth keeps spinning, nature does its (amazing) thing

There is something breathtaking* and humbling about standing in a field while swallows whizz about in the sky above your head, zooming low to skim past you, especially when you know that these acrobatic birds are busy feeding up before migrating epic distances for the winter. For the past week or so, the skies round here have been full of these little birds feeding and gathering in large groups before they cross the Channel on their way to South Africa. Incredibly, they fly around 200 miles each day to reach their wintering grounds. (You can read more about swallows here.)

We’re lucky that there is a thriving population of swallows in our village – they nest in local farmyards and stables where there is a ready supply of nesting material and insects. Just up the road from us is a smallholding of Shetland ponies and goats where over 30 swallows have fledged this year from 4 nests. There is a second brood in one nest and although the babies are flying, they still have the yellow edges to their beaks and fluffy feathers. They seemed completely unperturbed by me when I took these photos; if I’m going to be anthropomorphic, I’d say they were watching me with interest 🙂  I got within a metre of them and it was only when I lowered my camera that I noticed another one perched close behind me. It chirruped and took off, flying over my shoulder and out through the door, up into the sky. Hopefully, they will all be fully fledged and strong enough in time to survive their long journey south. We will be waiting for them to return next spring.


* Obviously this wouldn’t be thrilling if you suffered from ornithophobia…

27 thoughts on “The Earth keeps spinning, nature does its (amazing) thing

  1. Wonderful photos:). I’ve been very aware this week of all the swallows in this area of Shropshire and Herefordshire. Stopped at Stokesay Castle yesterday and watched what seemed like hundreds ducking and diving over a shallow pond. No doubt collecting insects. Then back they flew to the old stonework where lots of nests were visible. Always sad to see them go at this time of year but they’ll be back amazingly. B x

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  2. How lucky to see them so close. They always seem to be on the move here. We watched some house martin nests this summer and I imagine there were at least two broods from each of the four nests on the building. They have already left though and it is strangely quiet! 🙂

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  3. I do so love swallows, as well as house martins and swifts. Amazing birds, and always such a pleasure to watch, swooping low over the fields or canal. A local artist who paints lovely folksy pictures of the villages round here always includes some swallows, her trademark I think. They really make the picture, perfectly at home. Always sad to see them go, but it will be time to welcome the winter migrants soon. I’m looking forward to seeing the first Bewick’s swans arrive from Siberia, hopefully next month, bringing their babies with them. Glorious nature, always onwards. CJ xx

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  4. When I was ten I raised a swallow. It was a magical experience. He survived and left with all the others in September Then, a few years ago, four more chicks found their way to me. One of them forms the picture I have for my blog. They are beautiful birds. X

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  5. Amazing photos! I love swallows, all birds really. There are not so many swallows here, maybe the conditions are too rough. On the grounds of my childhood holiday house in Northern Italy there were many nests and I remember watching the nestlings grow up and fly the nest.

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    1. Swallows tend to avoid cities (I think) – not enough food or nesting places/material – but you probably have swifts? Lovely to have the memories of Italy 🙂


  6. I’d say those little ones were watching you with interest! I adore swallows. Watching them wheel around our sky, with their musical talk, makes me thrilled to be alive. Seeing the first flights of a swallow fledglings has been a highlight of our life here–such exhilaration in discovering what it could do. Unfortunately, the aggressive male bluebird that moved in here midsummer chased away our swallows. Little beast! So, it looks like we will have to take down our nesting boxes this winter to see if he will move on and we can bring the swallows back.

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  7. This was most interesting to read, Sam. I was recently watching swallow parents sweeping into a nest under a neighbour’s eaves and thinking it was a little late in the year, but your post confirms this

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  8. We recently visited some friends, there ‘hundreds’ of swallows gathering on the phone lines, it is amazing to see. I do worry about the loss of nesting sites as more old barns and farm buildings are converted to housing.

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  9. Love the photographs of the nest and young swallows. We don’t see them in our neighborhood as there isn’t enough open space – but there are areas nearby where you can watch them in flight. The Chicago Botanic Garden has lots of Swallow houses to make their lives a little easier.

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