Walls Farm swallows

It is always a joy when ‘our’ swallows return.

This year we first spotted them on Monday 22nd April. Circling the orchard, round the garden pond, then chuntering away to themselves on the telephone wires - yes, these were our swallows.

It is amazing to think of the distances they have travelled since they left last September - they’d have flown all the way down to South Africa and back. The thought is quite hard to get your head around, so I won’t try - we are just always delighted to see them back.

Within a week or so they were going in and out of our open garage, building a new nest in the high beams. They never seem to make use of an old nest, or certainly don’t seem to have done that so far.

As is now standard the swallows built their nest in firing line of the cars below and soon they were both covered with droppings of mud, bits of straw, and… well…, droppings.

The birds never seem to bother with any activity below, when one gets in and out of the car, or unloading shopping or school bags - they just seem to flit past your head like something unseen.

Throughout May our swallows laid their eggs, hatched their chicks and sprayed the Volvo with a fine pebble-dash effect. But don’t you just love them?

Early in June the first heads poked over the edge of the nest, and as the days went by, the bigger and bigger they got, and more and more noisy they got each time one of the parent birds flew in with a beakful of insects.

Brood 1 in launch position

Brood 1 in launch position

On Monday 17th June after a period of rain and strong winds it was a perfectly still evening and there was much excitement on the farm. All four chicks had hopped out and were flitting around on the beam adjacent to their nest. The parent birds were flying in and out, calling out to their chicks to take the plunge, and over the period of an hour three were out and flying round the yard and were gone. But there’s always one. Let’s be honest, there’s always one in every family - and the wee runty one would not budge, no matter how much the parents tried to coax it out.

By the next evening it too was gone.

Job done - Time to wash the cars!

We watched them land on the wires in the following days, all chattering away, looking just like notes on a musical score.

But our swallows are not done for this summer - last Friday (5th July) I was aware of the birds flying in and inspecting the apex of our porch at the backdoor of the kitchen - surely they weren’t going to build there? After all we had built them a perfectly good oak-beamed open garage for their use. They had never in the 18 years we have been at Walls Farm shown any interest in nesting anywhere else.

We headed off early the next day for a few days in Scotland and when we returned just 4 days later the new nest was almost complete.


It is certainly an inconvenience, but we do love our swallows and we know that some people have noticed a drop in their population - possibly because of lack of insects. Anyway we want to do our bit for the swallow numbers so we have blocked off our kitchen door for the next few weeks to give then the best chance of success. Will keep you posted how they get on with brood number 2.

Awaiting brood 2

Awaiting brood 2

Graeme Mitchell