This afternoon Oliver was feeling sick in the car so we pulled over at a roadside park on a Sunday road trip. We were heading down the Kii Peninsula and the park was near the small city of Wakayama. It was a typical Japanese roadside park, with beautifully clean bathrooms, restaurants, a bakery, etc. Along the building were several barn swallow (Hirunda rustica) nests and a large group of the birds. They did not seemed bothered by the large number of people or cars nearby and I was able to take a lot of photos.
Tight quarters for these juveniles – they must be ready to go soon.
The barn swallow has a massive range, being found all over the world except for the arctic and antarctic regions and the driest deserts. The subspecies in Japan is H. rustica gutturalis and it is distinguished by its white underparts. The swallow is a beautiful bird, with a forked tail, glossy blue back, daring, acrobatic flight and most importantly, it takes insects on the fly. Hence it is tolerated by humans and has spread its range and increased its numbers due to this association. They are great migrators and are a harbinger of the return of the warm weather.
Another example of the fine craftsmanship of the barn swallow.