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Friday, 14 July 2017

Bank swallows

They are tiny and fast, as they do acrobatics in the air. Bank swallows have fascinated my husband and me this spring and summer along the coastline of Prince Edward Island. However, photos have been difficult to acquire.


The small birds eat insects which they pluck from the air. We have only seen a few land on the ground during our several encounters with them. They are always in erratic motion. 


You can check out the sound of bank swallows here.


https://www.allaboutbirds.org/guide/Bank_Swallow/id



Our most recent encounter was at Red Point Provincial Park on the east coast of the island. During our picnic lunch, we watched the antics of the birds and pondered how to photograph them.


After lunch, we headed for a walk on the beach where a bank of five meters high explained why these swallows were present. A colony was established in the bank, groupings or single holes covered the top meter along one section of bank.





As I stood there and observed the holes, dozens of the tiny birds returned and swirled overhead, then headed into the holes. Imagine the sounds of so many of these swallows as you stand there watching! They disappeared into their nests and after a minute or so, exited again.


I continued to watch, wondering if there were any stragglers. After ten minutes, they were back again to repeat the scene. Again they left and returned.


Finally, success! I focussed on one hole and there she was, peering out. 




Later, another clung to the exterior of a hole and stayed long enough for me to photograph. 




The final photo was a motion shot which froze two of the little beauties in flight. 




Curiosity, observation and patience are important qualities when it comes to bird photography. The results can be special. However, had I not taken any photos, the experience of standing under the noisy, swirling bank swallows, was a once in a lifetime experience.

30 comments:

  1. My BiL has the proper camera and lens for bird photography. While I can appreciate both the equipment and the skill, it only interests me in passing. But I like seeing and learning a bit about your swallows. I had no idea of their nesting habits.

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    1. I will never have such a camera as has your BiL, AC. I use a simple point and shoot.

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  2. I have never seen bank swallows, but barn swallows are common around here. I do love to watch them fly. That's a great final shot! :-)

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    1. I have seen other types of swallows here as well, Jan. I can't imagine ever being able to photograph them.

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  3. Oh well done Marie! The swallows really are hard to capture! You are so right, a serious birder has to have so much patience, that doesn't work for me so much ☺ but my husband catches some amazing shots this way! Adorable shot with the swallow peeking out!

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    1. I love the one peeking out from the nest too, PDP.

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  4. Fascinating photos. Happy weekend.

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    1. Thanks, Mildred. Have a great weekend.

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  5. wonderful captures!! i could not agree with your last paragraph more. so true, so rewarding - even the images we capture in our minds!!!

    bird watching and photographing, such aa amazing hobby!!!

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    1. It is a great hobby, Debbie. It makes nature come alive when you take the time to stop and observe.

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  6. This is fascinating. Thank you so much.

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    1. These tiny swallows are amazing, Mage.

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  7. You explain everything so beautifully Marie. We had bank swallows in the town I lived in in New York and it was always so eerie to see the holes in the wintertime with no action around them ... then to see the activity in the warm months as they hatched their eggs.

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    1. I would love to see the little babies take to wing, Ginnie. Imagine the chances of catching that event.

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  8. The small birds make greased lightening look slow and predictable don't they? Great captures of them too.

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    1. Thanks, EC. Great description of their speed.

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  9. What a wonderful reward for your patience. It is fascinating how you described your experience photographing these lovely small creatures. Well done and thank you for sharing this.
    Have a wonderful day

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    1. Thanks, Bill. Patience and a bit of luck involved here.

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  10. Bank swallows is new to me! They are adorable!
    I agree with you! It needs a lot of patience when it comes to bird photography. So I often have to give up!
    Happy day to you.Marie!

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    1. I love having the time to observe these incredible creatures, Tomoko.

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  11. Off topic: Marie, I have removed my last post on my blog. I can't find you to explain why because I don't have your email address. Sorry.
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    I love this article about the Bank Swallows, I had never heard of them before!

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    1. Bank swallows are such fun to watch, Keith.

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  12. I wonder if they use those nesting holes year after year.

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    1. I don't know if they come back to the same area year after year, Shammi. Some of the banks would have eroded from the previous years I suspect, affecting the holes for sure.

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  13. Very interesting stuff. I've never seen a bank swallow before this. I've seen other kinds of swallows, and they've been some of my most interesting bird encounters.

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    1. Swallows in general are interesting creatures, Ratty.

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  14. You're absolutely right - curiosity, observation and patience, great qualities for photography at any time. If I slowed down I might get me camera settings right! Great pictures of the swallows. Their colours are so different from other swallows.

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    1. We have seen other types of swallows, FG, but yave not been able to photograph them.

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  15. Amazing. I didn't know there were birds who built homes in the dunes. I'm pretty sure we don't have them here, but I'm going to be looking

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  16. They are amazing creatures, Barbara.

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