I live in the Loire Valley region of central France and for four years a pair of swallows has nested in the workshop attached to this old farmhouse. This year something seems to have scared them off. We had two visits about ten days ago - one came into the workshop twice when I was dealing with the washing machine, the first time it swerved round and departed immediately and the second visit he/she (I gather the males come first) verbally abused me with a chittering and tweeting - really angry stuff normally reserved for Pinkle Purr our cat - then he flew out. Two evenings later about eight came swirling round the house and pond then disappeared and not a sign since which is so disappointing - it is so rewarding having them rear their young so close and they do like human company. I still hope they will return but other friends who also value their visiting swallows report the same absence. Does anyone know why this might be? We've been experiencing hideously cold windy and rain-sodden spells (same as in the UK) but the birds did arrive - and then left!
I would appreciate some feedback - thanks in anticipation! Balepy
Hi and welcome Balepy :)
I can only offer speculation about your Swallows. Assuming nothing has changed in the workshop over winter, I'd guess that it is down to low food supplies, because of the rubbish weather and resultant low numbers of flying insects.
So it could be either a) the Swallows are spending all their time feeding up in very productive areas, or b) they have moved on, looking for better feeding conditions somewhere else. After their long migration the Swallows need to feed up a fair bit to reach breeding condition, especially the females.
Would be good to hear more about your local wildlife!
I must admit to not seeing many Swallows in East Suffolk so far but the Swifts this year appear to be outnumbering those Swallows that we have seen, I trust that they turn up at your workshop soon
My cousin who lives in rural Gloucestershire has Swallows nesting in the outbuildings every year. This year they arrived over a month later than last year but at least they have and they are now starting to nest. Whether it's due to the poor weather over much of western Europe I don't know but something seems to have delayed them and they don't seem to be here in their usual numbers.
Our local swallows also arrived and then shoved off again - they came back a week later - and I also put that down to poor weather and no food. If they want to nest with you they will come back.
Thanks to all your comments and I feel heartened by the belief that the swallows will return - they normally arrive mid-April so they'd better hurry up! The cold weather has wiped out the first brood belonging to our wild mallards that inhabit our pond, and three of the seven "cootlings" (what a baby coots called?) however the survivors are now driving their over-protective parents quite crazy by scooting off on their own to feed, so entertaining to watch. We also have a pair of little grebes and four moor hens who have as yet - failed to produce - or maybe they have and the freezing nights have wiped out the young. Sadly it does happen. So good to be in touch with like-minded people, thanks for writing. Balepy
Aiki love your blog - graphics and words so evocative. I am an amateur in all things European (gardens, birds, weather etc) though born in the UK have lived half my life in East Africa, the other half in Australia and the last twelve years in Europe (Crete, Peloponnese and now France!) Does Marianne illustrate children's books I wonder as I am looking for an illustrator for my children's book "Freckles the Fawn" which is on the Authonomy website. I am also writing a journal about the wild life here both in the pond and around us and would love to work with an artist before submitting to a publisher. By the way last year the coots introduced the mallards to diving and becoming totally submerged beneath the surface of the pond - I've never seen mallards do that before - it's fascinating living so close to nature. Balepy
Oddly up here in Scotland we have loads of swallows hunting over the river! Maybe the ones up here are more used to rubbish weather LOL
Oh to be in Scotland now that May is here! Not a sign of a swallow in central France yet - and we certainly are having rubbish weather once again after an interval that made me believe that warmer temperatures had come to stay. Not so! When does one give up hope of seeing the return of our pair I wonder? Does anyone know when it is too late for nest-building? Balepy
If they come back again later on (hopefully soon) they will save time on nest building if they already have an existing nest from last year. If they dont maybe you could put an artifical one up in the same place they nested last year. It may give them some encouragement. Good luck, Diana