At Mersehead, we have two staff cottages with both the Warden and Assistant Warden living on the reserve. We are going to try and keep you updated on the wonderful wildlife we see at Mersehead during our daily walks.

Mersehead Moments

The first hirundines have been seen over Mersehead over the last few days with both swallow and sand martin arriving.

Photo credit: R.Flavelle

Having returned from its wintering grounds in South Africa, this swallow will have flown thousands of miles across the Sahara, over Morocco into Spain before crossing the Pyrenees and France to reach the UK.

Swallows migrate by day at low altitudes and find food on the wing. Despite accumulating some fat reserves before crossing large areas such as the Sahara Desert, they are vulnerable to starvation during these crossings. Migration is a hazardous time and many birds die from starvation, exhaustion and in storms.

Swallows prefer outbuildings which provide dark ledges and nooks and crannies for nesting. They can enter a building through a very small hole (~50mm x 200mm). You can encourage them to nest by also leaving the door open if you can. Nesting occurs primarily in June and July with both the male and female building the nest, usually working in the morning and making up to 1,000 trips to collect mud before the nest is complete. Swallows return to the same nest season to season and will make repairs to the nest if needed.

Rowena Flavelle, Warden