One thing I have noticed since becoming a bird watcher, you can’t ever really turn it off. You start almost subconsciously being aware of flutters in the air and cooing from the rooftops. Not that I ever really want to stop bird watching. I am simply observing that we become more aware because of this hobby and the results are usually interesting, no matter where we go.
We had the opportunity to spend a week in Southern France last summer, in a small village located in the Dordogne region. This was our first big trip since we had purchased our new camera and my lovely long lens, so we decided to pack the lot and see what photographic opportunities awaited us. And I am glad we did.
The houses in the village were set-up so that the main living space was on what Americans would consider the second floor, with the ground level being used much like a basement or a garage. The result was that the couch in the living room had a great vantage point of the roof-line across the street. And that was how I first noticed, out of the corner of my eye, a lot of fluttering going on just under the roof. The birds, a very small, quick bird (either a swift or a swallow I wasn’t sure) were popping in and out of a series of mud nests which reminded me of mud wasp nests, just much bigger. There was a whole colony of nests, all in a row, like houses along a street.
After some research into European swallows verses African swallows, with their air speed velocity sans coconuts (in all seriousness, I had no idea there were so many different kinds of swallows and swifts around the globe), I think that they were most likely the common house martin.
If you are interested to see how these fascinating mud houses are created, I found a great video online of cliff swallows building their nest: https://academy.allaboutbirds.org/cliff-swallows-build-nests-from-mud/