Watching nature take its course, from the top of a hill in northern England

Home Building


Whilst I’ve been clearing out the barn, a pair of swallows have been sizing the place up with a view to building a nest. Swooping around my head, chattering excitedly.

House hunting-2

It must be three or four years since they last nested in there, as nest sites go, it has risks last time they only just ‘broke even’ on survivorship, despite raising two broods of chicks.

Darcey the cat is the main predator, although at 15 years of age she is not as spritely as she once was, she is still a hunter, but she has switched her preference from birds to rodents, she spends hours watching and waiting patiently


for something to emerge ( our other car, Dandy, can’t summon the energy to get out of his basket, baby rabbits used to be his thing, in his younger days.)

The other problem with the barn is the ‘shared access’ sometimes there is a queue to get through the ‘hen flap’

Hen flap-2

The swallows are building high up in the roof of the barn, so fingers crossed that all fledge safely; although I’m not sure they’ve factored into the risk assessment, the neighbours cat though. she is watching and waiting.

Cat watch-2 

I love having the swallows nesting in the barn, (but not the mess, although the chickens are messy enough in their own right) there are far fewer suitable nesting sites than there used to be as, so many agricultural buildings have been converted to residential use. The challenge will be to photograph them on the wing. Watch this space.


Author: uphilldowndale

Watching the rhythm of rural life, from the top of a hill in northern England. Having spent most of my life avoiding writing, I now need to do it! I am no domestic goddess, but if I were expecting visitors to my home, I would whisk round with the duster and plump up the cushions and generally make the place look presentable. I hope that by putting my words where others may see them it will encourage me to ‘tidy up and push the Hoover around’ my writing. On the other hand I may just be adding to the compost heap. Only time will tell! Pull up a chair, sit yourself down, I’ll put the kettle on.

7 thoughts on “Home Building

  1. The photographs are lovely, and the picture of the hen waiting to get through the flap made me laugh. I hope that there isn’t a rush to get through one day – that could be very nasty! The cats are clearly mesmerised by whatever it is they’re watching, although I suspect that Darcy may be sleeping with her eyes open…

    Looking forward to seeing the swallows in flight 🙂

  2. Love the cat pictures. In an effort to keep the local bird population safe, my last cat had belled collars put round his neck. Roughly once a fortnight. Never did figure out how he got them off. Cost me a fortune over the years.

    The one we have now couldn’t catch a cold, so the blackbirds nesting in my hedge are safe from her, at least.

  3. That first image is elegant–I have a special affection for telephone wires as design elements–and I can hardly wait to see your photos of swallows in flight. Neither my eyes nor my hands move fast enough for that.

    I thought Miss Puss would be thrilled to see so many cats featured on today’s post, but no, she focused intently on the hens. Not a good sign.

  4. Wonderful photos to go with the story. I’m looking forward to following along (and hoping for a positive outcome for the swallows!). For the first year since we’ve lived here we have swallows nesting in our barn. They won’t have hens to contend with but they do need to watch out for the cats.

  5. I love the first two photos! A friend was saying recently that he sees few swallows or swifts, and no house martins, nowadays. xx

  6. I too look forward to the Swallows in flight photos.

    My best efforts were from ten years ago in a pre-digital camera phase (!). On holiday in Corfu we witnessed the Swallows (and bats at night) dipping the swimming pool to drink….thanks for reminding me of that memory.

  7. Pingback: A Good Cat, A Lovely Cat | Uphilldowndale

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