1. Swallows belong to the family Hirundininae which also includes martins. There are 84 recognised species worldwide.
  2. They are not even distantly related to swifts.
  3. Our familiar swallow, Hirundo rustica, is generally known as the barn swallow. It breeds throughout the Northern Hemisphere including every European country except Iceland.
  4. The barn swallow is the world’s most widespread swallow but several similar species breed in Africa. Australia’s welcome swallow is also closely related.
  5. In Norway and Finland swallows nest well north of the Arctic Circle.
  6. European swallows mostly winter in Africa south of the Sahara. Curiously, populations from the British Isles and northern Europe winter farther south than those from central and southern Europe, flying all the way to Botswana and South Africa.
  7. A few regularly spend the winter in southern Spain.
‘Swallow’ Image by CRUSH Photography©
  1. They like to nest in open-fronted buildings such as barns, stables and cowsheds.
  2. It takes a pair of swallows up to 1,200 journeys to build a nest. Only the female lines the nest.
  3. Swallows like to nest close to large domestic animals like cattle or horses. The decline in dairy farming in the UK and the resulting increase in arable farming has not suited the species.
  4. Most British swallows try to rear two broods each summer and some succeed in raising three.
  5. Europe’s population is thought to number about 15 million individuals, with the biggest numbers in Poland and Bulgaria. Britain’s 1 million ranks us in eleventh place.
  6. Red-rumped swallows are spreading steadily north from the Mediterranean and small numbers of over shooting birds occur here every spring.
  7. Swallows were likely to have been much rarer before man started practising agriculture and animal husbandry.
‘Juvenile Swallow’ Image by CRUSH Photography©
  1. While Mediterranean swallows often fledge their first broods in April, birds that breed in northern Scandinavia seldom arrive before the third week of May.
  2. The male swallow invariably arrives back first from migration, singing over his territory in the hope of attracting a mate. Females generally appear a week to a fortnight later.
  3. Male and female swallows are virtually identical in appearance.
  4. They will readily adopt artificial nests that resemble their own mud-built constructions.
  5. Much folklore surrounds the swallow. To see the first swallow of the year is regarded as a good omen. In Russia songs were written to celebrate their return after the long, cold winter.
  6. Before the mysteries of migration were understood, it was thought that swallows spent the winter buried in the mud of ponds and lakes.
  7. Swallows always drink on the wing, flying low to sip the water.
‘Swallow’ Image by CRUSH Photography©

CRUSH Photography©

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 CRUSH Photography©
Acknowledgements: Extract taken from 'Living with Birds'
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A British single-seat fighter aircraft, the Supermarine Spitfire was used by the Royal Air Force and other Allied countries before, during, and after World War II. Many variants were built, using several wing configurations, and it was produced in greater numbers than any other British aircraft. It was also the only British fighter produced continuously throughout the war. The Spitfire continues to be popular among enthusiasts; nearly 60 remain airworthy, and many more are static exhibits in aviation museums throughout the world.

‘The Supermarine Sptitfire’ (Image by CRUSH Photography)

The Spitfire was designed as a short-range, high-performance interceptor aircraft by R. J. Mitchell, chief designer at Supermarine Aviation Works, which operated as a subsidiary of Vickers-Armstrong from 1928. Mitchell pushed the Spitfire’s distinctive elliptical wing with cutting-edge sunken rivets (designed by Beverley Shenstone) to have the thinnest possible cross-section, helping give the aircraft a higher top speed than several contemporary fighters, including the Hawker Hurricane. Mitchell continued to refine the design until his death in 1937, whereupon his colleague Joseph Smith took over as chief designer, overseeing the Spitfire’s development through its multitude of variants.

CRUSH Photography

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 CRUSH Photography©
Acknowledgements: Extract taken from Wikipedia
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Large clouds of painted lady butterflies are being spotted across the UK and Ireland – and experts believe we are seeing a mass emergence that happens every 10 years.

Weather conditions and food sources are providing ideal conditions for the species to thrive.

Sightings of painted ladies – otherwise known as Vanessa cardui – have prompted countless pictures and videos to be posted to social media.

About 11 million of the butterflies were seen in the UK during the last “painted lady year” in 2009.

Simon Milne, Regius Keeper at the Royal Botanic Garden in Edinburgh, describes the phenomenon as “an amazing wonder of nature”.

On a normal day, in a regular year, Simon said he would expect to see about 10 to 15 of the species at the botanic gardens.

But he has encountered thousands of painted ladies in the past few days, and predicts that this year could see bigger numbers than ever before.

We are currently seeing a wave of home-grown butterflies, which are the descendants of those carried on winds from sub-Saharan Africa, along with newer arrivals from continental Europe.

Despite their delicate appearance, the insects can cover up to 100 miles each day as they migrate.

Tom Prescott, senior conservation officer with Butterfly Conservation Scotland, says that favourable breeding conditions mean we could see another wave of butterflies at the end of the summer “come early autumn, we could be up to our knees in them,” he said.

Numbers depend on favourable conditions earlier in the year, where the butterflies spend winter, warmer temperatures and favourable wind conditions as they migrate north.

The species often lay eggs on thistles, giving them the name Thistle Butterfly. Adults tend to feed on flowering plants and are often attracted to buddleia plants.

The public is being asked to submit butterfly sightings online to help Butterfly Conservation monitor numbers of this and other breeds.

Many butterfly species have been in decline.

According to the Butterfly Conservation Society, there is “evidence of the serious, long-term and ongoing decline of UK butterflies”.

CRUSH Photography©

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 CRUSH Photography©
Acknowledgements: Extracts taken from BBC News
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