Swallow fly in chaos around their nests.

Perhaps the famed migration of the Swallows from their winter home in Argentina to San Juan Capistrano isn’t as fleeting as the theme Transient suggests, but try taking photos of them near their nests and transience takes on a whole new meaning.

The nesting swallows flit back and forth so quickly that trying to capture one or several in a photo is a little ridiculous. Especially since I was precariously perched on the levee under the launch near where we windsurf. As soon as I dared step into their realm, they, and I mean hundreds of them, went flying, diving with acrobatic precision only the Flying Wallendas could execute!

In all 40 of my mostly failed images, I managed to highlight the nesting swallow (upper left corner of photo above) in most of the shots. I figured this was a nesting female patiently waiting for daddy bird to bring yummy treats to the nest.

You get the idea of the launch area in this photo.

Swallows flitting back and forth under their nesting home

It’s a good thing no one has bothered with these nests (as if they could)!

According to an article in the Orange County Register, swallows don’t return just to San Juan Capistrano – they also nest in San Clemente and other nearby communities, and local officials warn against messing with any active nests.

In fact, the California Department of Fish and Game considers Feb. 15 to Sept. 1 to be swallows nesting season.

“Completed nests during this breeding season cannot be touched without a permit from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service,” the announcement said.

Birdwatching as a hobby is very rewarding. With a great camera, one can capture wonderful images of birds. In this case however, I only really discovered all these swallows because I took my stand-up paddleboard under the bridge and thoroughly disturbed them a few years ago. Sometimes fishermen will stand near here, causing the swallows to fly around in a ruckus!

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27 thoughts on “A Somewhat Transient Migration

  1. Birds always remind me of my grandmother, who loved them. She had a couple of bird baths and several feeders in her yard. Anytime I see a mug or a shirt featuring birds, I immediately think of Grandma. Thanks for stirring up those fond memories, Terri.


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  2. Terri, do you live in Orange County? If yes, we are neighbors. The mission in San Juan Capistrano now has permanent nests attached to one of the buildings to welcome the swallows to move in, and Swallows Day remains a celebratory local event in late March every year. But if you live here, you know that. They are indeed swift!

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  3. Good shots. My remaining goal it to get a hummingbird capture (photo, that is) but so far have failed. One time I waited and waited as they flitted about. Gave up…turned off the camera…and one flew right up to my nose (thinking I was a flower?) and stayed there for the longest time. No matter now slowly I tried to set up a shot…it became aware of my movement…and disappeared

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