Tuesday, April 29, 2008


Mary-Anne Collis, an MSc student from The University of Exeter is spending the summer carrying out a research project into the nesting habits of swallows. Swallows have been in decline throughout Europe since the 1970s, probably because of the effect that widespread agricultural spraying has has on the insects that form their food. Collis is trying to discover the criteria that the birds use when choosing a nesting site, and to find out which agricultural practices best encourage them to nest and breed.

I think she'd have been a bit bemused to meet this little fellow, who we found when we went to Gardaland on Saturday. Obviously a swallow with extremely dubious taste, he'd built his nest in what has to be the kitschest part of the theme park - the mock Arab village.

He didn't seem at all fazed by the hordes of visitors - though I suspect it had been quieter before the bank holiday, when he built his nest. But he just sat there calmly watching us take photos, cleaned his feathers a bit, and then later flew to some nearby perches to sing us a song.

He wasn't the only one. Apart from his mate there were a number of others swooping around, presumably with their nests in similar places.

I think Collis may be on the wrong track. Forget grazing cattle and hedgerows Mary-Ann. That's old hat. What the modern generation want are roller coasters and hot dogs ...


Cheryl said...

How amazing and what an interesting post.

joco said...

Hiya Sue,

I just read a few days ago that a pair of swifts make 3000 trips to collect dollops of mud for their nest.
Just thought I'd throw that in. :-)

Anonymous said...

Lovly pictures :)

catzgarden said...

Hi, Sue - I have never seen these particular birds before - we have swallows, but not with the sweet long tails. Your pictures are great!

And what fascinating countryside...I haven't been to Europe, but I love to read about it and dream. I like your post on guerrilla gardening, too....

Everyone at blotanicals has been SO wonderful...I have never blogged before, and I'm just so surprised at what you can see and learn and share - and how warm everyone is.

Anyway, thanks for a peek into your world!

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