Swallow (Photo: Laurie Campbell)
Swallows are becoming more common in Harris, and you can now often see them soaring around the machair looking for insects. They nest in barns and other outbuildings, and do not often land on the ground. In the air they are swift and agile, and they catch insects in flight. You will hear them singing whilst in flight, and their warbling song is one of the first signs of spring.
The adult birds have a lovely red bib – the young birds are much duller.
In autumn they all gather together before migrating. You can sometimes see large flocks of swallows all together on telephone wires, chattering away. Then they set off on their migration – all the way to Africa from Harris. Sometimes the young birds are only a few weeks old when they have to make this amazing journey. And then, in spring, they come all the way back again!
by Alison Tyler