Wednesday, 1 August 2012

Swallow Babies and Bell Heather

There are three active swallows` nests here this year. One has a family of youngsters already flying confidently over the fields. The two other nests each have two surviving fledglings who have been at their most vulnerable this week. The cats have been on curfew.

After leaving the nests, high up on a rafter, the fledglings huddled together, two in each stable, on the wood shaving covered floor. They had to wait on the ground to be fed by their parents and for their wings to grow strong enough for independent flight. I watched their parents busily flying in and out to feed the chicks and then twittering away across the fields towards the muck heaps, where insects are at their most plentiful.

This morning, two of the fledgelings had flown up to the stable door (above), where their parents fed them. I watched them for a long time and then saw them fly away with their parents, up around the holly hedge and back towards the fields.

In the stable next door, the other two babies were waiting on a high wooden shelf for their food.

Later this morning, they too had flown and then found their way back to the nest, where they peeped over the top waiting for room service!

Out on the heath at midday, the deep pink bell heather was in full flower and growing among other heathland plants like gorse.....

....bracken and yellow tormentil.....

...bramble and wood sage.

This gravel bank was covered in bell heather. Up on the main heathlands, pale purple ling is still in bud but bell heather and cross leaved heath always flower earlier and mostly colonise the heathland edges.

A tall, small flowered thistle was attracting honey bees in a damp hollow. There are families of goldfinches around here that will love the thistle seed.

Still alert and enjoying his short walks, Old Dog was waiting patiently for me to put my camera away.


Toffeeapple said...

Fledgling Swallows and wild flowers, what could be better? Well, my knowing the names of the wild flowers would be an improvement for one thing. I hadn't been aware of Pale Purple Ling and Bell Heather, having assumed that Ling and Heather were one and the same. I am so pleased that you are here to educate me. I hope it sticks in my memory too.

Bovey Belle said...

I'm sorry to be missing the Forest heather and ling. I'll have to try and get up on the mynydd to see the Welsh equivalent in bloom.

Old Dog is looking quite perky and I'm glad he's enjoying his walks still.

Isn't it strange, but no colours clash in nature? You wouldn't dream of putting that bright yellow with that fairly lurid purply-pink in real life, yet it looks good in the photo.

Our baby Swallows have fledged now so we can leave the barn door unblocked again. (We had to shut it up to keep the cats out - the Swallows use the window "upstairs".)

The Weaver of Grass said...

What a lovely post today D W. The heather is just beginning to turn purple on the moor above our house. Our barns are full of baby swallows and some of the nests are low enough for the babies to be seen. It is as though the parents have been coming here for so long that they know we are harmless. Love the old dog in the last photo too.

Kath said...

Aw look at his dear old grey face XX

Morning's Minion said...

Swallow babies have such wide mouths. The tree swallows babies here have fledged and flown. Our barn doesn't seem to attract many barn swallows.
I've particularly enjoyed the wildflower photos in this post. It seems I've been reading for years about heather-covered hillsides--how strange never to see them in reality.
Old Dog has such a pleasant countenance--surely a fine companion.

angryparsnip said...

Awwwwwwwww, Old Dog and baby Swallows
the perfect post !
Old Dog looks very happy and sweet in that photo.
I think some times my dogs, who love any attention, have that look on their face, please put the caners down and play now.

cheers, parsnip

Karen said...

And I had grey catbirds nesting in my redbud tree right off my patio this year. It was fun to see the fledgling being coaxed out of the nest by it parents.

Never heard of Ling. Off to Wikipedia to check it out . . .

BilboWaggins said...

Gorgeous shot of Old Dog, lovely post, thank you.

Crafty Green Poet said...

Lovely post! How wonderful to have swallows nesting so close to you!