Having arrived back early in April, and us with so much to tell them, our Swallows then seemed to disappear for a few weeks.
Then in came another cohort and it was clear these were 'our' Swallows. Swooping and chittering around the house and heading straight for the place where their nest had been.
The nest that we had taken down because we couldn't open the window ..
And we felt utterly wretched because you could almost hear the disappointment in the chittering. The birds knew exactly where they were, sat in the empty space and flew back and forth while we sat there hoping they wouldn't go off in a sulk.
One lot took it all out on some poor unsuspecting wrens, first evicting the squatters and their mossy creations before they set about renovating their old nest on the veranda, and they have now moved in.
That's put paid to sitting on the veranda for the summer, but this, as you will see, is quite inferior to the Grand Designs creation to come, and most likely the work of last year's brood so for a first time nest we're giving them a Highly Commended.
About ten days ago, just as Bookhound had finished painting the window, (doesn't didn't it look nice) we noticed a hive of activity around Tinker's Cott. Day by day the Swallows have built and built and built until now there is a veritable penthouse suite in situ.
A work of art by the Grown Ups who are showing the Youngsters how its done...
So cleverly constructed, they will be as snug and as happy as larry in there and all house painting (to Bookhound's great relief) now conveniently on hold as we watch the Swallow guano pile up.
I have been reading about nest-building in Angela Turner's excellent book The Swallow, in the Hamlyn Species Guide series, and this, for our area, will be a composite of mud and grass added like bricks in a wall, and will have been built by both the male and the female, mostly in the morning, whilst the afternoons are spent feeding to build up reserves to last the night. They both hop in there in the evening and then poke their heads out to stare at us. The nest must keep the eggs and the nestlings warm, but not too warm, must give room to grow and must last until fledging. This one, south-facing, cleverly offers maximum protection from the south-westerly weather, and tucked high up under the eaves also shades from the sun now at its zenith in the sky. I suspect by any standard this is a large nest so plenty of room for a large brood of babies.
The eggs will be laid one a day, early in the morning, probably four or five of them which will take fifteen days to hatch, at which point the mother drops the empty shells over the side...
And apparently the lining of feathers now being accumulated will be slowly thrown out as the babies grow so that they don't overheat...
We are going to be scouring the ground below for all these clues, watch this space, it'll be like Spring Watch on here.