One of the first birds I saw when I arrived at the Camp on Lake Ontario was the bank swallow. we barely pulled into the parking lot and I jumped out with my bins to see which species was flying about over the water. To my utter delight it was Bank Swallows, a species I had not seen a quite a long time. for the next five days I would see and hear them all day long. I never grew tired of their buoyant flight over silvery blue water and even bluer skies.
Due to their small size and fast flight they are not an easy bird to photograph, but I did mange to capture a couple of shots where you can actually see the bird. Bank swallows are brown above and creamy white below with a brown breast band. They are our smallest swallow and they need vertical sandy banks to excavate and build their nests in.
Bank swallows live in colonies and nest, feed and fly together.
You can see from these photographs how the bank is constantly being eroded by the weather. Huge storms build on Lake Ontario buffeting the shore with huge waves, wind, and rain. We had one powerful rain storm while I was there that totally reshaped the beach below the swallow’s nests. I loved the feel of the wind and the sound of the wild pounding waves, but it really does damage to the cliffs themselves. Still, just look at the beauty of these birds in flight. Often I would see 20 or more at a time as they bounded out over the water.
Here you can see the beach below. This is how it looked when I arrived. Over the course of the week I took to calling it Bank Swallow Beach. On the day I took this photo the storm came in. Oh, it was wild and wonderful and I loved it, but by the morning of the 4th this beach had been totally reshaped. That sandy, gravelly area below was washed away and the water’s edge was moved back to the line where you can see the debris. If you look closely at the photo you can see a bit of a brownish path emerging from beneath that green tree. I had walked down the path to the beach and partially stepped off that edge to take the photos of the Bank Swallow’s nesting site on July 31st. On August 2nd I had stood up above in this location and watched parents standing on the beach below while their kids played in the surf. By the morning of the 4th there was no beach left. Just water and debris and the cliff. I wondered if the storm has washed away any of the swallow nests but never walked back down the trail to find out. It was too slippery and covered in spots with very stinky mud and puddles. I did count at least 10 Bank Swallows on my last day here.
When I first came here in the 60’s the bank was much farther out. There was land here one could stand on. Over the years the weather has eaten away at the shore. The fence has been moved ever backwards and is in the process of being moved again. The orange flags denote where the new post holes will go. It is an ever changing world for us and the birds, one to which we must constantly adapt keeping all things in balance: The needs of humans to save their land, yet with regard for nature and the creatures who share this earth with us.
This is a beautiful vantage point for us and for the birds.
Click here to read my previous Post The Birds of AMOC Camp