08 October 2012

Late brood

Time is ticking

For many birds, this years nesting season has been hampered with wet weather and low temperatures. As a result, some have been recorded nesting later than they would normally.

On 2 October we received an email from Linda Adam in Devon, who still had a pair of Swallows feeding a brood of chicks! The nest records database shows that of the 45,000 Swallow nest records collected since 1939, only 16 have still had chicks in the nest in October. So this is indeed a very late brood!

Luckily a local ringer Nick Ward was on hand to inspect and ring these chicks, which have now fledged. They will have to gain weight and refine their flying skills quickly before heading south with the other Swallows that are now migrating to South Africa.

Northumbria Swallow roost

Richard Barnes writes:

Northumbria Ringing Group have attempted to catch Swallows at a roost in reedbeds at Birtley Sewage Works in Gateshead since 2006, and up to 2011 have caught almost 5500 birds.

This year, a combination of an easily netted roost site and suitable weather conditions have allowed 9 visits to be made to the roost, resulting in catches of between 205 to 637 birds, giving a total of almost 3500.

In 2010 a Swallow turned up in a mist net on the adjacent CES site bearing a South African ring,  having been ringed in Zambia on 23 Nov 2009. Only 25 Swallows have been caught in Britain or Ireland wearing a South African ring, and on 22 September 2012 we caught another one!

A selection of recoveries of Swallows that were ringed by Northumbria Ringing Group are mapped below (double click to zoom in) but not those recovered by Northumbria Ringing Group and ringed elsewhere.

View Swallow recoveries for Northumbria Ringing Group in a full screen map

Thanks to Linda Adam and Richard Barnes for letting us know and to John Harding for the photo.


  1. I would like to congratulate the Northumbria Ringing Group for the monitoring work of the swallows.
    I know what it means to work on the roost, serving organization, speed and hard work, especially when it comes to numbers so high catches.
    Fortunately, there are also the rewards given by recoveries and in your case seem to me very interesting and rewarding.
    I think it's important to continue to monitor the population of European swallows, ringing both the colonies to roosts.
    Our group ring swallows in a roost in Piedmont (Italy) since 2001 and the situation encountered in the past three years is a strong population decline.

    Congratulations again for your work and sorry for my English.

    Marco Bandini mbandini@parcoticinolagomaggiore.it

  2. Regarding late nesting Swallows - still two fledglings not quite fledged on 12th October in a nest in the porch of the warden's but at Marloes Sands car park - see entry for 12th Oct on http://www.pembsbirds.blogspot.co.uk/