Swallows set to be stars of internet

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A FAMILY of swallows are set to be internet stars after a webcam was installed at their newly-built nest.

The birds constructed their bowl-shaped nest using only mud, grass and saliva underneath a swing bridge at the Saltholme RSPB wildlife reserve, on the outskirts of Hartlepool.

With chicks on their way, the RSPB are sure the 24-hour live feed will be popular with viewers.

Toby Collett, who works at Saltholme, said: “They’re putting the finishing touches to the construction, but soon we’ll see them doing a spot of decorating as they bring in feathers to line the nest.

“Once the nest is finished, the soap opera will begin as we follow the ups and downs of raising a family of up to five swallow chicks.”

Swallows tend to nest around humans, often in barns and outbuildings, so the swing bridge will be a comfortable home for the family.

The bridge has had nearly 200,000 visitors since Saltholme opened in January 2009, meaning the birds will not be short of adoring fans.

Toby, who helped install the camera, believes the swallows will be compulsive viewing.

He said: “I don’t think TV executives have ever seen such a versatile cast.

“The swallows are architects, engineers, interior designers and soap stars all in one.”

You can watch the progress of the swallows 24-hours-a-day at: www.rspb.org.uk/saltholme.

The Saltholme wildlife reserve and discovery park, which is situated near the mouth of the River Tees between Billingham and Seaton Carew, was created after £7m investment and funding support.

The Teesside Environmental Trust, a charity whose aims are of wildlife conservation, environmental education and regeneration, work closely with the RSPB to maintain Saltholme.