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Old July 12th, 2009, 05:43 AM   #1
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Swallows at the nest

I've uploaded a new video at Swallow's convenience on Vimeo

The swallows are there, year after year, and this year I actually got around to filming them. Having taken a selection of long, medium and close-up shots (well, as close as I could comfortably get), I started putting them together. The narrative came out of the time-line rather than any prior intention.

All shots and sounds recorded on one evening, but I edited the sound somewhat - taking better sounds from some clips to replace the native sound of passing cars, and lowering the volume of other people talking etc.
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Old July 12th, 2009, 01:27 PM   #2
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Lovely, Annie - simple, but lovely. They do pick the oddest places to nest, don't they?

I'm not sure I would want to hang around public toilets too long with my camera gear though! <grins>
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Old July 12th, 2009, 02:09 PM   #3
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You'll probably see more (and more expensive) camera gear at these public toilets than any other! But it's pretty quiet when the boats aren't running.

Yes, swallows can nest almost anywhere there is a roof over their heads - they even tried my bedroom earlier this year. But as they aren't house-trained, I had to turn them out.
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Old July 12th, 2009, 03:27 PM   #4
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Hi Annie,

A very nice piece with an important message that is dear to my heart.

I have been very lucky to work and live in the New Forest for the past six years. Each autumn the Red Deer rut attracts many photographers and videographers from all over the UK causing so much disturbance that the last two years the rut been very poor indeed. Part of this is caused by so called wildlife photographers and videographers trying to get far to close to them.
Last year I even witnessed one photographer running close behind a stag along a shallow river. Worse still, its to my knowledge that one very well known UK wildlife photographer was warned about his conduct by the local keeper.

Please all take note of Annie's short piece to remember the welfare of your subject should be first and formost.

Annie, sorry about the rant.

Regards

Mck
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Old July 12th, 2009, 05:29 PM   #5
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As the numbers of swallows, house martins and swifts breeding in the south of Ireland this year appear to be well below average, your video illustrates a serious message, beautifully. Thank you Annie.

There is also a drop of 50% or more in the population of flying insects around our locality and most unusally at the 70 acre reservoir nearby. Where there used to be clouds of midges every summer for 35 years we now have none. Hirundines feed mainly on flying insects.
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Old July 12th, 2009, 05:48 PM   #6
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Mick - there is no need to apologise - it is an important subject, and there are many ways in which people (whether or not they have a camera) inadvertently harm wildlife. Unfortunately there are many who do more damage through ignorance and carelessness, and make it worse by wielding a camera. They also give the rest of us a bad name. Specific examples of such disturbance are useful, rather than just saying that disturbance is harmful when people do not realise what they are doing wrong.

Brendan - hirundines are suffering from many of the same problems that bats are suffering from - and as most of my work is in bat conservation I'm frequently telling people that these animals have suffered loss of food supply through modern farming methods (especially land drainage, use of pesticides, and the development of monoculture farming). Through European legislation the bats are protected, so I spend most of my time surveying old farm buildings that are likely to be developed into holiday cottages. Many of these buildings also house swallows, but they are not protected, except directly when they are nesting (as are all birds). They lose their homes through development, but there is no requirement for any mitigation. And now so many insect numbers are down too because of a couple of very bad summers, so everything is suffering.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 02:58 AM   #7
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Annie - if my UWOL works out this time, I think you might enjoy it!

I was already aware of the need to not disturb them too much, thankfully a 20x lens should keep me far enough away to be inconspicuous to them. They'll still poo all over me, I reckon, little blighters.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 03:37 AM   #8
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Mike, if it were practical for me to do it, a 24 hour time-lapse of the pulses of human activity at this site might make for a good rhythm too. LoL
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Old July 13th, 2009, 08:19 AM   #9
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Well, I know where all the midges went,

Algonquin Park, Ontario, Canada.

We got eaten alive last week, there were swarms of them.

The bats and swallows, had no problems with human interference there.
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Old July 13th, 2009, 08:39 AM   #10
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The mosquitos and midges drove me out of Algonquin in 1977 - it's good to know they are still there.
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Old July 14th, 2009, 11:45 AM   #11
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Annie,
Lovely video and an important message. I think we videographers are less intrusive than photographers, however I cannot gloat. Last month, while I was trying to shoo a fledgling White-crowned Sparrow off of a heavily traveled road, the bird made it to the shoulder. A van came by. I moved out of its way, but to avoid me, it moved to the opposite shoulder. You can guess what happened.
I think the undenied champion of intrusive photographers was Eliot Porter. He once cut off the top of a tall spruce, which contained the nest of a Blackburnian Warbler, and lowered it with block and tackle in order to photograph the birds. He's not clear what eventually happened, but I don't think the end result was happy for the birds.
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Old July 14th, 2009, 02:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Annie Haycock View Post

- hirundines are suffering from many of the same problems that bats are suffering from - and as most of my work is in bat conservation I'm frequently telling people that these animals have suffered loss of food supply through modern farming methods ..... land drainage, use of pesticides, and the development of monoculture farming.... And now so many insect numbers are down too because of a couple of very bad summers, so everything is suffering.
In April/May I was amazed to count 34 bird species breeding alongside 16kms (10miles) of pot-holed by-road in mid-Spain; most were migrants ... what surprised me was that there were very few trees (max 15) and no bushes or cover along the flat fields, except small groups of rocks. I had no choice but to admit that almost all the species were ground nesting birds. So what sort of ground conditions were they enjoying ?? Uncultivated pasture, as far as the eye could see ... 100s of acres of it stretching to the horizon on both sides ... a few dozen cattle here and a hundred sheep here and there; but no sign of interference with the sod ... all wild flowers and natural grass; no evidence of artificial fertiliser, pesticide or drainage.

Back in Ireland I spent a week in June photographing birds in west Kerry. Delighted and excited I was to find 36 species breeding in a tiny coastal area, about 6 kms sq. plus 5 more species regularly visiting the area. What sort of terrain? No trees or big bushes; lots of low cover e.g bracken, furze and bramble but MAINLY uncultivated pasture with a few dozen cattle and sheep. 6 hares made themselves obvious and here's one of a small family of choughs that checked my pulse every day ...
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Old July 14th, 2009, 04:27 PM   #13
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Brendan

Mid-Spain - sounds like Extremadura, great bustard country. A wonderful place for birds, butterflies, botany and beetles. And their own extra-large variety of Common (European) Toad. It's twenty years since I was there, and I'm hoping when my husband retires, that we can visit it again.

I did manage to video chough on the slopes behind the building with the swallows - it was a particularly windy day, and there isn't enough video that isn't shaking in the wind to make a short film of them. Now that I've unearthed the bean-bag (from the chaos of house renovations) I hope to be better prepared for stabilising the camera next time. Choughs are one of my favourite birds. This afternoon a family of them were feeding on the cliffs where I was doing a bird survey - the youngsters now sound like whiney teenagers.
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Old July 14th, 2009, 04:45 PM   #14
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Steve

I think we videographers can be less intrusive than photographers, but in both cases it takes a bit of thought. And in both cases we can be so intent on our subjects that we don't always notice other things - another bird nesting nearby, for example.

I wonder how Eliot Porter would have felt if someone/something had picked up his house and stuck it on an island - just far enough offshore that he could see where he needed to be, but too far away to actually get there without attracting sharks. That story doesn't say much for someone who supposedly had a passion for birds - or was it just a passion for photographing them?
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Old July 14th, 2009, 05:00 PM   #15
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Extremadura it is, Annie. Spain at its wonderful best. Roads are generally motorway, even to edge of Monfrague. Getting my bearings away from and towards Barajas Airport is the only tricky bit. Hotel Portugal II near Almaraz beside motorway Madrid to Badajoz is now comfortable and reasonable. Lunch in Portugal I in Almaraz, 3 kms away, can be good too. Pot-holed road I mentioned above leads east out of Belen ... superb for migrant birds & flora in Spring, great for butterflies and darters in Autumn. About 60 kms to the north, towards Plasencia, Casa Rural El Cabrerin in Villareal de San Carlos is simple en suite accommo very handy to Pena Falcon with resident deer and many raptors. Bats appear nightly ... I can't say which species. Orioles, bee-eaters & hoopoes should keep your man happy if he's not into vultures and short-toed eagles (perhaps after a career on the cliff-edge). I assume everyone else will be as glad to retire as I am.
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