Back at the great architects

Cliff Swallow 1  

I spent the last two evenings down in the valley at a colony of Cliff Swallows I found about three weeks ago underneath a bridge that crosses the Little Maquoketa River. Since then the swallows were so kind to built some new nests on the outside of the bridge so I didn’t have to climb underneath anymore, between big boulders and the mud of the river. The nests are still under an overhang of the bridge and it is necessary to throw some additional light at them for a good picture. For now I used my speed light mounted directly on top of the camera and it delivered some acceptable results. I may try my little softbox the next time and use it off camera for an even softer light with less shadows.

Cliff Swallow 2


Cliff Swallows are some amazing architects who build their gourd-shaped nests out of mud and the darker color of some parts told me that they still work on them. The whole colony was very busy catching insects. We have gazillions of annoying little gnats here at the moment and some mosquitos as well, so there is food in abundance. Standing beside the river with a tripod for a long time requires the use of some bug spray on your skin to make it halfway bearable. Other than that, it is a lot of fun and very interesting to watch their interaction with each other.

Cliff Swallow 3


It didn’t look like that they had laid their eggs yet. The swallows came repeatedly back to their nests, rested for a little while, and went out again for another feeding frenzy.

I can’t let this opportunity, to have these beautiful Cliff Swallows relatively close to our home, pass by and I hope I’m able to see them raising their offspring soon. I’ll keep you posted…