|Part of the OPW Clonmacnoise heritage site Ricky Whelan|
Swifts are birds of impeccable taste, often selecting the oldest and most beautiful buildings and locations to nest. During our 2015 fieldwork season BirdWatch Ireland carried out Swift surveys at a number of OPW heritage sites. Of these we were lucky enough to have the opportunity to visit Clonmacnoise, the ancient monastic site set in the beautiful natural surroundings of the Shannon Callows of County Offaly.
The site proved not only to be a pleasant stop in the fieldwork schedule but it also turned up one of the most interesting Swift nest locations we know of!
|Kate at the "waist-high" nest hole|
at Clonmacnoise Brian Caffrey
|Nest location in the "Round-tower" Ricky Whelan|
|Yep thats a nest site! Ricky Whelan|
It was fantastic to find a sitting Swift incubating an unconfirmed number of eggs inside the cavity. A quick peak confirmed occupancy and incubation behaviour and also detected one "rolled" egg. On occasion eggs will get dislodged from the nest cup and birds fail to get them back into the nest to incubate, the eggs will fail to develop and remain at the nest or be disregarded whilst the parents concentrate on the viable eggs.
The beautiful location and novelty of this nest site make Clonmacnoise well worth the visit for any Swift fanatic or natural history fan. One only knows how many bus loads of people from all over the world have passed the nest each summer, totally unaware of what a special creature lays within, silently rearing its young before embarking south to the Congo for the winter.
For more info on the OPW and the sites they manage click here:
We are always looking for records of Swift nest sites. Do you know of any? Enter your known sites here: