Friday 30 August 2013

Bye Bye Birdy

Many summer holiday visitors have been leaving Blair Atholl over the last few days, and with the dismantling of the horse trials it has gone quiet. But this is not just because all the people have gone, many of the summer bird visitors have flown off too. Suddenly we notice that there's no oystercatcher piping or sandpiper peeping. The swallows have been flocking for a couple of weeks now, but are almost ready to go, and will be followed soon after by the house martins.

Huge numbers of swallows congregate on phone wires at Old Blair. They flock together like this prior to the start of their journey.

Swallows head to South Africa, where they can continue to feed on insects. Although it seems to us as though they go to Africa fro the winter, in fact, they only come here to breed, spending much more of the year away. The abundant insect life that we have in the summer helps them to rear their chicks successfully. Swallows mate for life, females choose males depending on the length of their long tail feathers - those with the longest tails are the most sought after! Most pairs will raise 2 broods of chicks while they are here, but mortality will be 70 - 80% in the first year. The migratory journey is particularly hazardous. If they survive to the next year, young birds will return to the same place that they came from, e.g. your garden.

1 comment:

  1. The swallows have pretty much all gone today. They have taken advantage of a strong northerly wind to help them on their way.