The martins, swallows and swifts are settled in, so it is time for us to move on.

Apologies all for the lack of posts over the last couple of weeks but we have been switching countries, and consequently have been juggling packing nightmares with everyday life. We got there in the end, with no major headaches. Not that I really suffer from those, although in previous years it has not been unusual for me to suffer from hirundine headaches at this time of year!

This year though I have been rather proud of myself as I have confidently distinguished between swallows, swifts and martins, and so I thought no identification headaches for me. 

But then MrB asked if I could identify exactly what swift, and martin I am looking at. Hmmm well I know that if it has a long forked swallow it is probably a swallow and so in Portugal it will either be a:

  • Barn or chimney swallow (English)  Hirundo rustica (scientific)  Andorinha-das-chaminés (Portuguese) or
  • Red-Rumped Swallow  Cecropis daurica  Andorinha-dáurica

And if it’s more like a martin then it could be a;

  • Common House Martin  Delichon urbicum  Andorinha-dos-beirais
  • Sand Martin  Riparia riparia  Andorinha-das-barreiras
  • Crag Martin Ptyonoprogne rupestris  Andorinha-das-rochas

And if its a swift with those boomerang shaped wings, well then it could be a;

  • Common Swift Apus-apus Andorinhão-preto
  • Alpine Swift Tachymarptis melba Andorinhão-real
  • Pallid Swift Apus pallidus Andorinhão-pálido
  • or if you are really really lucky a White Rumped Swift Apus caffer Andorinhão-cafre

By the way I do know swifts are not hirundines! However I am less confident about working out exactly which swift or hirundine I am seeing. It is not always the easiest thing to determine when they are performing their aerial acrobats high above you, even with great identification illustrations like these!

You can’t even be sure if you see them in winter as whilst unusually only the Crag Martin is resident year round, there have been occasions when the others have been spotted here in December and January. We’re reasonably confident thought these are crag martins in the video!

I have so many more birding posts to share with you this year as we have had some extraordinary birding moments in the past few weeks, I also have lots to share still from our Alentejo adventures and also so many more walks. So whilst we may no longer physically be with the swifts, swallows and martins in Portugal, mentally part of me is still there so expect to see at least one post  every week between now and our return in the Autumn. For now though let me finish with another shot of the gorgeous Red-Rumped Swallow who kindly paused for a moment on a wire last week.

Red Rumped Swallow

Author: BeckyB

It had been a good life walking, cooking, photographing, volunteering, blogging, and best of all spending time with MrB, family, & friends. Sadly it no longer is. Suddenly and unexpectedly I have become a widow.

16 thoughts

  1. No mention of the apparent huge drop in numbers of martins arriving in uk.
    How much truth is in the discussion about losses in North Africa about the netting and capturing of these birds to sell on for food .?
    Especially in Egypt?

    1. Don’t know . . .there is definitely a drop but I suspect much has also to do with the lack of insects in the UK. The difference between here and Portugal is so noticeable.

  2. I’m impressed – they are beautiful but I don’t know any names. Tough I’m often just as bad with people 🙂

    1. oh thank you so much Nia. And my apologies for delay in replying, i was very unwell shortly after posting this and have only logged back in today!

Comments are closed.