Swallows have been nesting in the sheds here since before I moved here. At that time the sheds were cowsheds and open hay storage barns so it was easy access for the swallows. These dilapidated sheds had to be replaced for workshops. Naturally when the swallows appeared the following summer from their winter in Africa (lucky swallows!) they expected to use their homes as normal. I had to refuse my workshop to them as they do make such a mess it would mark the wood forever. Huw, however, was more than happy to share his workshop space so we cut a slit in the the wall (box profile zinc on sides and roof) of his workshop for them to fly in and out as they wished.
The first year the swallows built their nest on the south side but the shed was no longer full of holes so it warmed up too much on that side and the babies died so we stopped them nesting there. Since then they have chosen better nest sites. They were so used to Huw being around they paid him no heed as they flew around. He could even make a specific sound that would get all the baby swallows popping their heads over the top of the nest and opening their gapes for food. However, their parents would give a warning chirrup as they flew off for more food to remind them to stay quiet till they returned.
Sometimes the swallows have used the same nest the following year. This year they had no chance of that as someone else thought it was an excellent spot. Blue tits I think, but after building the nest they abandoned it so I’m not sure. However the swallows had no problem finding somewhere else and successfully raised a brood. When the fledglings were young and vulnerable the parents were most upset with Puss wandering around minding her own business. When she was following me around when I went into the vegetable garden or just sunning herself she would be dive bombed repeatedly by very noisy and incredibly brave swallows. Since she has caught a swallow years ago I know she is capable of catching them so was full of admiration for the swallows to risk their lives for their babies. However, since Puss gets told off when she catches any bird but not when she catches field mice or baby rabbits she does seem to leave birds alone. Sometimes instinct gets the better of her but only about one or two a year.
I only ever saw three babies this year until I came to take this last photo. They could hardly fit into the nest. After I’d taken the photo they all flew out so they were already fledged and I’m unsure if one of them might therefore have been a parent. They were certainly cosy in the nest by the end! I see the swallows on the phone line occasionally but they seem to have left the nest and the shed for this year. They will spend some time here again before they go off to Africa for the winter.