There’s a nip in the air and we find ourselves searching the skies to see if the swallows are on their way South. The swallows here at Fforest Cwm had reared two broods of chicks (ten chicks in total) successfully but then, as they did last year, they decided to have a third brood and when I drove North three days ago for a family funeral, the fledglings were still stubbornly in the nest and the parents were frantically feeding them every few minutes, diving around the yard and zooming into the sheep shed where their nests are nearly always placed.
When I arrived home yesterday Steve announced the swallows had fledged- all except for one, strangely. When I went to take the sheep in this morning, the sole fledgling flapped and I could see at once it was somehow trapped in the nest.
The parents had lined the nest after their second brood with a thick blanket of feathers and- Steve discovered- horse hair! The young bird had somehow attached itself to the nest with this thick hair (probably from my horse’s mane); he managed to free it and it flew almost drunkenly out of the barn and into a nearby tree. At once it chattered away and immediately around 20 or 30 birds appeared, swooping and chattering as if celebrating the young bird’s success at breaking free from the nest.
The swallows from Fforest Cwm and the surrounding valley disappeared on the 23rd last year, the first day of the Autumn.Coincidence? This year, the 22nd is the first official day so I wonder if they stayed behind in the hope that the last bird would join them. WATCH THIS SPACE!! Meanwhile, the ducklings have grown so much in a week.As we fed them this week, a heron flew noisily overhead; their call resembles a dog barking and Freda, the Jack Russell terrier, answered with a few barks of her own! Do herons take ducklings? Well, they’re safe in the pen with their mother. They’ll be grown up too before we know it. And then it will be winter…