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©

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Acknowledgements: Extract taken from 'Living with Birds'
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One of our most treasured songbirds, the Spotted Flycatcher, is disappearing. Once considered a common garden nesting species, the Spotted Flycatcher is now a bird that many people are willing to travel a long way to see.

‘Spotted Flycatcher’

Breeding Bird Survey data show a decline in the breeding population of 39% between 1995 and 2016, part of a staggering longer term decline of 87% since 1970.

The results of the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) initial research indicate that more Spotted Flycatchers are dying during the first year of their lives and that this increased mortality is likely to be behind the population decline.

Funds raised through this appeal will enable BTO scientists to use a combination of the latest tracking devices and the support of local volunteers to follow individual birds as they migrate away from their breeding sites. This will help us to identify their wintering grounds and the areas that the birds use as stop-over sites en route.

CRUSH Photography©

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 CRUSH Photography©
Acknowledgements: Extracts taken from the British Trust more...
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The unmistakable, black-and-white Tufted Duck lives up to its name – look out for the black tuft of feathers on its head. It can be seen all year-round, but often flocks together with other ducks in winter.

About

The UK’s most common diving duck, the Tufted Duck nests on flooded gravel pits, lakes and reservoirs, and gathers in large flocks in the winter, often mixed with Pochard and Coot. Tufted Ducks feed on waterweed, plant seeds and aquatic invertebrates.

‘Tufted Duck’

How to identify

The Tufted Duck is very distinctive: the female is entirely chocolate-brown, while the male is black with white flanks and a long tuft at the back of the head.

Distribution

Found throughout the country, on lakes, reservoirs and flooded gravel pits.

Did you know?

The scientific name of the Tufted Duck, fuligula, means ‘sooty throat’. Like most ducks, the ‘drake’ (male) has nothing to do with the incubation of the eggs or raising the young. The ‘hen’ (female) has eight to eleven eggs in a brood; the young becoming independent once their true feathers have fledged.

CRUSH Photography©

Digiprove sealCopyright secured by Digiprove © 2019 CRUSH Photography©
Acknowledgements: Extracts taken from the Wildlife Trusts
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Reading time: 1 min
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