Feathered visitors are back at the GM and their numbers are growing
The Greenhous Meadow has been visited by a family of Swallows for many years and they returned at the end of April to start their nesting.
They will stay until September and have two or three separate sets of babies before making their return trip to Africa. Around 40 – 50 Swallows arrive in April but when they leave their numbers will have increased to well over 300.
Club media manager Ian Whitfield believes the birds have been coming back to the stadium within a couple of years of the ground opening in 2007.
“I reckon they have been coming here since about 2009 and I’ve noticed the numbers increasing over the years,” said Ian.
“Everyone at the club has just learnt to live with them and they become part of the family.
“They will dart in and out of the stands and seem to be unfussed about people, when we have evening games in August they are more than happy to fly around with 5,000 people in the Greenhous Meadow.
“With programmes such as Springwatch you tend to notice nature a little bit more.
“I mentioned the Swallows to the BBC Midlands sports team a while back and is was great that Springwatch came down to take a look.”
Gareth Egarr, North reserve officer for Shropshire Wildlife Trust was invited to the stadium to take a look.
He believes they keep coming back because the stands offer the perfect nesting place.
“Basically, they are there because it offers very suitable conditions,” said Mr Egarr.
“Classically, swallows will nest in barns or outbuildings and people with garages where the door is often left open - anywhere where there’s an open front.
“What they need is somewhere to protect them from the elements but where they can build a mud cut, usually on a ledge.
“And from walking under the stand, there are so many structures that it’s an ideal place for them to settle.
“With the nice, big wide entrances and open front, there are also nice sightlines so they can get in and out easily.”
With the birds more prevalent at the start of the football season in August, they don’t see the presence of crowds a problem.
“I haven’t heard of another football stadium being used for nesting swallows, but they seem to be happy,” sad Mr Egarr.
Mr Egarr believes numbers at the Greenhous Meadow have increased as the swallows’ offspring follow them.
“They make this incredible journey to South Africa each year from March to September, October time and their offspring will come with them,” he said.
The birds aren’t confined to one part of the Greenhous Meadow either.
“I haven’t actually counted all the nests as I only went in the South Stand, but in there, I counted six nests and they are likely to be in other stands as well,” he said.
“Ian reckoned there might be up to 30 nests in all, so I certainly think there are between 20 and 30 in total across all four stands.”
The only problem from the club’s point of view might be clearing up the droppings.
“The droppings can be a bit of a problem so they might have to clean the seats, but Ian says everyone loves having the swallows there,” said Mr Egarr.
Virtually all the swallows currently in the United Kingdom spend their winters in South Africa before flying back in our springtime.
Swallows are extremely agile in flight and are widespread breeding birds in the Northern Hemisphere, migrating south in winter.
Numbers in the UK have fluctuated over the last 30 years with pronounced regional variation in trends, but there are said to be 860,000 breeding territories in Britain.