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.
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.