Barn Swallows in flight at Mount Moreland


The Swallows Barn

At last I am able to send you a picture of the barn, a general view of the landscape.  It was taken from the north, over the bioenergy field.  A glimpse of the house can be seen on the left.  The lake behind the buildings cannot be seen in the picture, because it is situated so much lower.  Another possible direction for the picture would have been from the lake, but my foot is not yet strong enough for handling the boat, and using the canoe would have been difficult because of the big waves due to strong winds recently.  Hopefully the picture was worth waiting.Barn where the Swallows nest
I am already used to being without swallows. I saw the last Barn Swallows 13 days ago, 5 to 6 migrating birds in the evening.  At first it felt very sad and I am still missing them.  The barn and the yard that were full of swallows and their calls and twitter, are now empty and silent.  At times there are, of course, other birds instead, but swallows delighted us with their presence all the time.  And swallows are something special.  On the other hand I am glad that the swallows will soon be in the warmth of South Africa and will, in turn, delight you.
Pictures from a swallow perspective: I took pictures of an aerial photoBarn where the Swallows nest hanging on the wall.  I think the result is surprisingly good, well, at least if you do not enlarge the pictures too much.  In the pictures you can see almost the whole yard as the swallows see it.  In order to eliminate the flash reflection I had to take the pictures not straight ahead but from the side.  Another thing is that the picture was taken some 20 years ago and some things have changed since that.  For instance that big dirt heap between the cow house and the house no more exists (it was dug out from under the cow house floor when making major rearrangements in there: cows out, bulls in).  As you have seen from newer pictures the house is nowadays light yellow instead of brown and there are less trees around the house, which is good both for the people (more sunshine) and the swallows (more room to fly around).   What we call "the barn" is also no separate building but the highest yellow part of the cow house used for storing different things. 
The cow house was built in 1963 and it took some years before the first swallows appeared.  In the first years there were only a couple of pairs nesting but then their amount was little by little growing.  Now it seems that after the livestock was off, the amount of nesting swallows has diminished by a couple of pairs, but that does not necessarily have any effect on the amount of active nests.  It is more essential how many second-brood nests there are. 
When we still had livestock, we used to store in the barn hay, grain for livestock, straw, farm implements and firewood.  Now as the cowhouse has soon been empty for 4 years, we no more need to store anything for livestock, and the swallows are the masters of the barn.
The weater has cooled down, the daytime temperatures have been below 10 deg and at night some degrees below zero.  Nightfrost is usual at this time of the year.  This is the time for harvesting the garden and starting to clean tree leaves off the lawns.  That is a big job and I have got two yards to clean, the farm and the summer cottage.  Luckily, I no more have to do it much by hand, using a rake, but I just attach a leaf-collecting device to the lawnmower, sit down on the seat and "let it burn" as we say in Finland.  What is left I will finish by an air-blowing machine (I do not know how it is called in English).  The leaves will then be mixed with the soil of the garden to make it more fertile.
Have a nice spring with swallows and a lot of rain.
Let us know when your Barn Swallows return   

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