For the past few weeks I have been pacing the garden like an expectant father. Now, let me immediately clarify that…I have been pacing the garden like what I imagine an expectant father would pace like. I have no kids so am not speaking from experience.
You see, about two months ago, Hazel and I watched as two Swallows flew in and out of our shed. We had erected a ‘false’ Swallow nest in a perfect place above the entrance. We had even cut out two heart-shaped holes in the shed to allow access when the shed door was closed. We also put up a camera but, as luck would have it, a little rodent visitor chewed on the wires this winter so we have no camera in operation.
So two Swallows set up home in our shed. We watched as the birds added some mud pellets to the rim of the false nest and lined the nest with feathers and fur. They were very protective of the shed and would swoop over us if we needed to get to the bird food or a can of oil.
Then we checked and saw a single egg. By the end of the week there were five. And so disturbance was kept to a minimum. All five eggs hatched and so the diligent parents spent from dawn to dusk feeding an ever-growing family. By last weekend, both adults were roosting on the rafters while space in the nest was tight. We could make out at least four chicks…perhaps the fifth was sitting at the bottom of the pile?
I am writing all this because over the past two days all five chicks are out and about for the first time. They are sitting on the fence alongside the shed and getting fed y very vocal and alert adults. At night they are returning back into the safety of our shed.
Looking at these birds, barely 20g in weight, it is hard to believe that in a few short weeks they will begin a 10,000km journey to South Africa, crossing open sea, high mountain passes and then the vastness of the Sahara Desert. Looking at the shot of the young bird above (which I took yesterday evening as it contemplated two insects on the fence), I can’t help but hope that it, and all of his/her siblings, survive. If they do, they may return to our shed again…a 10,000km journey back to Wicklow. How amazing is that?
I wish all of our migrant birds the very best this coming autumn…I wish them all safe journeys and hope for their safe return.