High drama with Walls Farm swallows

Our swallows had been busy all week putting the finishing touches to their new nest for their second brood.

In and out of the kitchen porch they went all day long.

Then last Tuesday there was an almighty kerfuffle, with a flash of wings and the high peeping alarm call of the swallows.

All went quiet.

I just saw a blur out the corner of my eye - the blur that could only mean a sparrow hawk attack.

The terrain is perfect for a sparrowhawk as the back wall of the kitchen and porch where the swallows nest is, creates a sort of tight corridor of space with the wall of our rental cottage opposite - rather appropriately called ‘Swallow’s Rest’.

It was all over in a second, then I saw the hawk on the ground on top of something, glaring at me to back off - sparrowhawks look so fierce and menacing, when they have just made a kill, and this was a big female. - however somewhat reluctantly the sparrow hawk flitted off silently into the low branches of the trees at the side of the garage.

I had a look and realised it had dropped its prey and was obviously very reluctant to leave it behind. She was big and mean, and glowered at me.

My camera was in the kitchen, so I quickly retreated, grabbed the camera, and grabbed a shot before it headed off to fight another day.

sparrowhawk attack

sparrowhawk attack

Oh dear, what has happened to our swallow?

Did she get it?

In the moment of the attack all swallows in the vicinity disappeared, but about 10 minutes after the hiatus I noticed our spaniel Lily looking rather pleased with herself after she had popped over the fence and collected a fresh carcass of a semi-decapitated blackbird, from under the branch where the sparrowhawk had been giving me the ‘laser-eye’ treatment.

So my theory is that the hawk did not in fact take one of our swallows, however was on one of its daily opportunistic patrols of her territory (our garden) - flew through to corridor of space at the back of the kitchen porch and seized the unlucky blackbird. I had disturbed the hawk and it dropped its breakfast before being able to clear the branches.

This was borne out when a short while later the swallows returned and were flying in and out to their nest as if nothing had happened.

The tell tale tail

The tell tale tail

The good news is as of Friday 19th July the parents have been sitting tight on the nest with only the tell-tale tail protruding, giving away their presence. Methinks they have laid their eggs and are incubating.

What drama is to follow?

Watch this space.

Graeme Mitchell