The “Well” Swallows Are Back!

This morning as I walked the dogs I recognised a familiar bird call followed by a silhouette against the white canvas of the morning hill mist. A pair of Barn Swallows, these are always the first pair to arrive in this area (even though in the Algarve, Barn Swallows can be seen in December) and they are the “Well” Swallows, named because they have their nest down inside a water well.

I was able to hide inside the Well’s pump house to get some great close up shots. I say this everytime, but please don’t approach live bird nests when the young are there, I’m lucky that I can hide away in the pump house completely hidden.

These are the shots I got last year, but I was struggling with light deep down in the well with overhanging trees.

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The Barn Swallows Already Have Babies!

You may remember a post a few days ago showing a Barn Swallow sitting on it’s nest inside a disused Well. Just to reiterate, I am able to view this nest without disturbing them or the adults. Please don’t approach any nest that is in danger of being disturbed!

This morning I took a look and there are 3 hungry babies in there. The adults are busy feeding them and also occasionally sitting on them to keep them warm.

Here is a shot I grabbed this morning, in case you are wondering the middle one is perfectly fine and alive!

{Click image(s) to view on Flickr - opens in new tab}

Baby Barn Swallows
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European Bee Eaters Nest Building (Video)

Yesterday morning I managed to get to the “hole” where the Abelharucos (Portuguese for Bee Eaters) have been building their tunnels and place a Bushnell NatureView Camera to capture any more visits.

I woke up this morning and stepped outside to drink my (required) morning Coffee to a loud reception of Bee Eater chatter. They were all gathered on trees surrounding the “hole”.

This evening I managed to swap the memory card in the camera and couldn’t believe how much footage was recorded from the 2 days.

I have used a small selection to create this short film of them busy building. As you can see it seems that the whole colony is building tunnels, which is normal behaviour.

European Bee Eaters make tunnels around 1 meter long with a chamber at the end where the female will lay between 5 and 8 eggs. It’s obvious from the film that it takes a longtime to complete, around 20 days.

The clips are a selection from the 2 days, towards the end, the light levels improve as the bank is South West facing so keep watching to really appreciate the stunning colours of these birds.

{Remember to watch in HD if possible}

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Are Bee Eaters making a nesting site in the garden?

Today I could hear a lot of Bee Eater activity as they have a very distinct “chirping” noise.

Our house (or Quinta) is on top of a hill and we have a tree lined driveway up the hill. I could see them sitting in the trees and then it dawned on me.

When the previous owners landscaped the land, they excavated a hole to use the good soil to build some terracing. The hole still exists.

As it was dug with a digger, it has banks very similar to river banks. Bee Eaters build burrows in River banks. Yes, it appears as though they are possibly making their own excavations right here in the garden.

This photo, from a long distance shows 2 of the Bee Eaters sitting in the tree (top right) and the fake river bank that they are paying a lot of attention to.

Bee Eaters new nesting site? – D810, AF-S 500mm f/4 with TC-17II @ 850mm, f/8, ISO360, 1/800sec

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Mistle Thrushes are moving in.

I had a message from Emma (my better half) today as she’d spotted a new bird in the garden we had not seen before. We soon identified it as a Mistle Thrush, a bird that is common, but on the RSPB Amber Status due to decline in gardens (RSPB – Mistle Thrush).

So imagine our surprise when I noticed that a pair is building a nest in our old Oak Tree. I watched them for a while and noticed the female would go off gathering with the male following, but staying perched high on lookout as if he was guarding her.

Here’s a few quick shots I managed to get, I look forward to getting more photos of them.

{Click image for a higher resolution, click Flickr Link in caption to view photo on Flickr}
Moss for the Nest - D7100, AF-S 300mm f/2.8 @ f/4, ISO125, 1/1000sec - {Flickr Link}
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