19 Jul 2007

Swallows in Donegal and a Spoonbill two miles away on the Quoile.

176 Storm Petrel

Peregrine's Bird Facts Female Swallows prefer males with long tails, as these show that he is well fed and strong since extra nutrients are required to grow a longer tail.

Last week I was up in Donegal at my parents for a couple of nights. My mother and I went for a drive out to Melmore Head and as we were going over Lough Salt Mountain she said that she often sees Common Sandpiper up on this Lough. No sooner had she said it and I swerved to a halt as there was one right beside the road.

While we were out walking she wondered whether her sheepdog "Beth" and the Swallows

on the farm had a symbiotic relationship. We have had a number of swallows that have nested in a barn on the farm for years and years.

Beth is a rescue dog that we have never been able to rehome successfully, mainly due to the fact that she has a penchant for chasing cattle.(My mother is the treasurer and one of the founders of Donegal Pet Rescue and at any one time we may have two or three dogs that have been picked up and need to be rehomed.) Beth has now been around for quite a few years and I doubt whether my mother would rehome her now.

Well Beth absolutely loves the swallows she gets so excited when they return from Africa each spring. So much so that my mother knows by the tone of Beth's bark that they are back before she even sees one. When they start nesting in the upstairs barn Beth races to the doorway and barks at them.

They then fly out of the barn and over to the field beside the barn. Beth bounds down the steps and clears the fence into the field before chasing the swallows.

This can go on for nearly an hour by which time the dog is thoroughly exhausted. The theory about the symbiosis is that as she is chasing the swallows one can quite often see three or four swallows flying after her and feeding on the flies and bugs she has disturbed. So the Swallows get fed and the dog gets exercised!!!

While I was up in Donegal I went out to Glenveigh to see if I could see the Golden Eagles but to no avail again!!!!!!!

Back from Donegal and there was a report of a Spoonbill dropping into WWT Castle Espie, presumably the same one that I saw about a month ago 20 miles south of me, so I went there but it had flown. However yesterday afternoon it had brightened up considerably and I decided to pop out to The Castle Island Hide on the Quoile River a couple of miles from me and I walked into the hide and there it was on an island fifty yards in front of the hide.It was fast asleep but fortunately a heron flew low over it and woke it up so I could get a reasonable photo.

The Quoile River has been an absolute disaster this year but more about that in a later post.

I am off to Umbria in Italy in a couple of days time along with my camera, binoculars and so hope to add to my list of birds. You will get a trip report eventually on my return.


ciderduck said...

nice shots of the spoonbill, we miss it anytime we've been round there. And it was right in front of the hide too?!?

Nelly said...

My sister has a dog like Beth that chases the seabirds on the beach. She calls him the Air Traffic Controller.

Great pictures.