Incoming…an adult swallow [hirundo rustica or fáinleog in Irish;] arrives back to its chicks with breakfast (a crunchy mouthful of bugs) on rocks along Salthill Promenade in Galway on Saturday morning.
I went down to Salthill Promenade this morning to see of there was any sign of the dolphin. It was a warm, sunny morning and the tide was out. I notied that a group of young swallows were perched on the boulders that make up the sea wall along the prom. There were the offspring of at least three adult pairs who spent their entire time feeding them. The young ones had that slightly confused look that all recently fledged birds have – they know how to fly, but all the other stuff that will keep them alive is still very new to them.
Most of the time, the adults would fly to where the young were perched, and feed them by hovering in front of them, while shovelling a mouthful of flies and other bugs into their gaping beaks. Occasionally, the young ones would fly up to meet their parent and be fed in mid-air [a transaction that would happen very fast, and one that I wasn't able to capture on camera]. When an adult swallow returned with food, it called out and only its own young reacted to the call – by flapping wings and with wide-opened mouths.
The feeding happened incredibly fast – the adult swallow could hover, stuff food into both of its young and be off again in little over a second. My camera takes six and a half shots per second [and it was set to high-speed mode] and yet I only got a few pictures where the parent and chick were in the same frame.
I left the Prom around 10.30 and went into town. On the way back, nearly three hours later, the young were still there, and still being fed by their dedicated parents. You can see a gallery of photographs of the swallows feeding, and waiting to be fed, here.
Camera = Canon 40D, lens = Canon 100-400mm zoom, aperture = f10, speed=1/800 sec, ISO400.