I was working in the visitor centre yesterday enjoying the aerobatic spectacle of our newly fledged swallows in breezy conditions when a visitor asked "Do you think they know what's in store for them?". He was referring to the epic journey to southern Africa that these month-old birds would have to make in just a few weeks. We joked that perhaps their parents were waiting for the right moment to tell them. Bearing in mind they were still perfecting take offs and landings, a 6,000 mile trip would be quite a daunting prospect. We thought the news would have to be delivered sensitively, especially when mum & dad had to admit they prefer to travel alone.
Sadly many swallows don't make it to Africa and back, the natural hazards are immense, from aerial threats such as Eleonora's falcons in the Mediterranean (a bird that times its breeding to coincide with peak bird migration in the autumn and are basically a hobby on steroids with a turbo-boost) to having to cross one of the largest deserts in the world, with little food. Then there are the increasing additional threats posed by us. Birds like swallows rely on 'flyways' to take them to and from their African wintering grounds. The money from this year's Birdfair is going to help secure these flight lines and protect birds like the swallow. See http://www.birdfair.org.uk/about/birdfair-projects/
With two broods fledging from the centre at the moment the air is full of swallow antics. They have been gleaning insects from around the building and even off the windows. More than once I heard a sharp tap on the window, which at first I thought was a collision, but the young swallows have learned to patrol the perimeter and snatch unsuspecting prey off the glass....which means you're in for a bit of a show if you come to Frampton right now.