On the Ropes: Swallows, Martins & Mayflies

One of the pleasures of being on the lake

is watching the birds~

especially the Swallows and their cousins,

the Purple Martins.

We have been visited by a large group

or “kettle” of Barn Swallows this year.

We watched them flying under our dock to build nests formed by mud cups this summer.

Both parents assist in nest-building, and make an estimated 1000 trips to collect mud to build a nest which is then lined with grass and feathers.

They return to same nest season to season and making any repairs needed.

The downside to being on the water

is the abundance of insects~

This is our third hatch or “bloom” of Mayflies this summer~ they mature all at once, hovering together and clinging to every surface~ chairs, siding, screens. . .

Messy but harmless, Mayflies they live only a

few hours to a few days~

long enough to mate and become part of the food chain.

Which explains our abundance of Swallows,

lined up to feast like it’s a Thanksgiving buffet :)

Entertaining to watch their aerial

 acrobatics as they snatch insects out of the air~

Hard on ropes though :)

Thank you for your visit!

  38 comments for “On the Ropes: Swallows, Martins & Mayflies

  1. Happier Than A Pig in Mud
    July 30, 2012 at 5:34 am

    Always something happening on the water! Got a chuckle at the visual of you floating in an inner tube tethered to the dock holding on to your camera for dear life:@)

  2. Debbie@Mountain Breaths
    July 30, 2012 at 6:05 am

    What a great shot of the mayflies. Glad you kept the camera dry and were successful with the dock shot of the swallow :-) LOL

  3. Julie Harris
    July 30, 2012 at 7:57 am

    Beautiful pictures of the beautiful birds. Thank you for sharing with us (and the trouble it took to photograph. Ha!). Love your blog.
    Julie from Michigan

  4. Carolyn
    July 30, 2012 at 8:25 am

    Love the birds on the rope. So cute! Great Pics.

    CE NC

  5. July 30, 2012 at 9:05 am

    Enjoyed this so much Mary. We have Barn Swallows here at the lake. They nest in the bluffs. Had them at the farm where they nested on our front porch. Being territorial,they let me know the porch was theirs, every morning when I went out for my walk.:-)
    We have Humming Birds on our deck here at the lake. Not many at home but lots here to watch.

    Love the birds on a rope! All your photos are beautiful!!

  6. July 30, 2012 at 9:22 am

    Wow! The trouble (fun?) you go to to share your life on the lake with us! Fly, fly, fly!!!

  7. July 30, 2012 at 9:29 am

    Mary, that’s one amazing shot of the Mayflies, and the shot of the birds on the rope should be a greeting card. ;-) I, too, love to watch birds, especially when they are building their nest. Such an interesting process! I’ve not witnessed a mud nest being built. That must really be something.
    Hope all is well lakeside and that you are enjoying a beautiful summer. Sadie and I send big hugs to you, Gracie, and Chloe.

  8. July 30, 2012 at 9:37 am

    I’ve been wondering what those flies were in our pool this year for the first time in 15 yrs. here in MI. I just researched Mayflies and they’re a welcome sign that natural waterways are free of pollution! Also, we adore Barn Swallows and Purple Martins but see them very rarely here. How fortunate that you can enjoy them!

  9. July 30, 2012 at 9:50 am

    Interesting to learn about mayflies! Now, maybe when we receive the seasonal gnats that cling to our outside windows and hover in my garden I will think good thoughts that they are part of the food chain. Great shots. Thanks for your perseverance capturing them.

  10. July 30, 2012 at 10:18 am

    Joe and I love all sorts of birds. These water loving birds are beautiful.

  11. July 30, 2012 at 10:51 am

    Fascinating post! amazing how birds know to come back year after eyar to the same place!

  12. July 30, 2012 at 9:49 pm

    What fabulous shots… you caught the birds and insects in their element! I would put up with the bugs to be by the water!

  13. July 31, 2012 at 9:24 am

    Super photos, and I appreciate your effort in sharing them with us! :D

  14. August 1, 2012 at 12:27 am

    Thanks for going to all the trouble to get the great shots of the swallows..wonderful!!

  15. August 1, 2012 at 5:24 pm

    Great pictures! I didn’t realize they were called a kettle. How interesting. I think I have a record number of barn swallows in my barn this year. There’s another group about ready to fly the nest.

  16. August 1, 2012 at 5:57 pm

    Barn swallows took over my barn one summer and scared the beejeezus out of my horses. It was really kind of funny to watch 1,000 lb animals duck when a swallow flew over their heads.

    lovely shots!

  17. August 1, 2012 at 7:48 pm

    I love to see barn swallows soaring and diving to catch insects! Your photos are wonderful!!

  18. vbr
    August 1, 2012 at 11:21 pm

    On a field trip with the kids at Equestrian Camp, we were in the Mounted Police barn, and the kids were as pleased with the barn swallows that live there, as they were with the gorgeous horses. the swallows were all sitting on the rafters high up in the barn watching us. When they would fly off it was exciting to see. The kids loved it (me too!) Great post!

  19. August 2, 2012 at 4:40 am

    Lovely bird! Great shots!


  20. August 2, 2012 at 4:41 am

    What wonderful, bright photos you are sharing here! And, I had no idea a group of any kind of birds was referred to as a “kettle.”

  21. August 2, 2012 at 10:25 am

    Kettle! Who knew? Thanks for the new vocab word. Great shot of the nest and the one of the birds lined up on the ropes.

  22. August 2, 2012 at 11:25 am

    What delightful summer guests, and you have captured them perfectly!


  23. August 2, 2012 at 1:11 pm

    You have captured some awesome shots. I love the insects one. Great submission

  24. August 2, 2012 at 1:39 pm

    You perseverance paid off in a great shot of the nest! I enjoyed all your photos — especially the aerial acrobatics one! And “Kettle” — we learn something new everyday!

  25. August 2, 2012 at 7:20 pm

    Oh my…that’s an awful lot of birds. Your mid-air catch was fantastic!!!

  26. August 2, 2012 at 9:57 pm

    Your photos are always so beautiful! Thanks for the share!

  27. August 2, 2012 at 11:18 pm

    I love watching birds. You know, I learn something everyday from reading blogs. I had never heard of a band or group of birds being called a kettle. I’ve heard of a gaggle, a flock etc but never a kettle of barn swallows. I had to google it. Thanks!~Ames

  28. August 3, 2012 at 10:30 am

    Wow! The aerial shot was awesome! Great catch! We had some swallows build a nest over our boat a few years ago. The only downside were the bird droppings :(

  29. Andy
    August 3, 2012 at 12:35 pm

    Dear friend,
    Great, great shots!! In fact, amazing photos. Thanks for sharing.

  30. August 3, 2012 at 1:30 pm

    Oh, this brings back such memories. When I was a little girl in New Hampshire, we had a barn swallow nest in the corner of our porch. Even though we often played on the porch, we were always so careful not to disturb the chicks. Each year we looked forward to the next generation that would return to their cozy little “mud hut.” A year or so after we moved away, we took a drive by that old house, only to find that the porch had been torn down, and replaced by a couple of bay windows. Our dear little birds had to find someplace else to nest–just as we did. :0) –Lucinda

  31. August 7, 2012 at 8:21 pm

    oh so beautiful; love these sweet little birds..

  32. August 7, 2012 at 9:51 pm

    Great shots! I am pretty unsuccessful at bird photography, so I appreciate your success!

    Hope you can stop by my blog sometime, and if you have not already done so, “Like” Hood Photography on Facebook! Thanks!

  33. August 7, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    I really enjoyed this post about swallows and insects. On my way home from a neighborhood gas station I saw a black bear in my rear mirror and also a blue heron flying up in the sky just over the tree tops and a beautiful sunset. It is pleasant to live by the water.

  34. August 8, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Lovely Swallows such beautiful birds, great shots.

  35. August 8, 2012 at 6:33 pm

    What a krazy wonderful link for the letter ‘K’.

    I’ve always liked watching swallows! They seem like they just float on the wind!

    Thanks for sharing these great pictures!


  36. August 8, 2012 at 8:00 pm

    Apparently you, like me, love to watch the birds……your captures are better than mine, though!

  37. August 12, 2012 at 2:30 pm

    Great shots of the Swallows.. I have not seen any
    here but we do have lots of odd bird types to say
    the least. Tropical….

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