The swallows have been very busy here this summer. There are several nests around, but the two I’ve been watching are in the hayshed. A third nest had been started in between the other two, but it was never finished. Apparently they decided it was getting too crowded. The swallows have to share the hayshed, because it is the favourite sleeping place for Ollie and Zebby, our cats, and the dogs like it there too.
The cats were of course very interested in the swallows, but they couldn’t get at them. The nests are just under the roof in the rafters and the hay is on the opposite side of the shed. Even the wildest acrobatics didn’t get them anywhere near, so in the end they just gave up. They would lie in the hay and watch the swallows swooping in and out with that bored, aristocratic air that cats can do so well. The swallows just ignored the cats.
With two nests full of fledglings and four adults on the go to keep those insatiable youngsters happy, the hayshed was a hive of activity. For such tiny birds the young produce a disproportionate amount of noise. I could hear them chattering almost non-stop. If I had to get into the shed, the noise would suddenly stop and all the little heads would duck under the rim of the nests. Outside, the parents would be screeching their alarm cries and dive past in an effort to distract me.
Yesterday, the first nest flew out. I was in the house and I saw the fledglings rise above the trees, supported and encouraged by the parents. I love swallows. Their air acrobatics are highly entertaining and I spent ages watching the fledglings learning how to swoop and dive and glide. This morning I had a look in the hay shed. The youngsters in the second nest are nearly ready to leave too; there are four of them and they fill the nest to overflowing. You need a better camera than the cheap digital I possess to do them justice, but I did my best to capture them before they’re gone. I had to nearly hang myself from the rafters and zoom in as far as my camera would allow to get them, but here they are. As a sculptor, I do admire the way they build their nests. Every nest is a work of art.