The chairman of a tourism organisation has been ferrying around some unusual visitors since they arrived in Ireland.
Unknown to Hendrick Verwey, a pair of swallows decided to build a nest on a headboard in the back of his Mitsubishi Canter.
He believes they got in through a slit in the canvas on one side of the vehicle and hatched three chicks about two weeks ago.
Hendrick, who is chairman of Cobh Tourism in Co Cork, uses the van to sell flowers and garden plants around Munster and the chicks go along for the ride. Surprisingly their parents don’t.
“As soon as I start the van, the parents leg it. But when I arrive back from wherever I’ve been, they are waiting to feed them,” Hendrick said.
Hendrick Verwey, from Cobh with his flower truck, where the three swallows are nesting. VIDEO: Eddie O’Hare
On one recent trip to Ardfert, Co Kerry, he was gone from home for seven hours.
On another trip to Roche’s Point he was away for nearly three hours.
The parents also stayed at home when Hendrick went around his hometown on a five-hour grass-cutting and general tidying exercise.
No matter how long away, the parents are always there on his return.
It’s not clear why they don’t stay close to the chicks, but it could be that there’s an abundance of insects available to them as food in the harbourside town and they’re happy with their lot there.
For the most part, swallows are insectivorous, taking flying insects on the wing.
“The chicks’ travels appear to have little ill effects and their parents resume duties when the van is parked back in its usual spot. They will fledge within a few days and are beginning to colour nicely,” Mr Hendrick said.
As the chicks are now at a critical stage in their development and will probably fly the nest in the next week, Hendrick has decided to give them a bit of breathing space.
“To make it easier for them and their parents I’ve decided to park up the lorry at home. So I have borrowed another vehicle so I can still carry out my deliveries, go grass-cutting, etc,” Hendrick said.
“I’m used to dealing with tourists, but these are definitely not the kind we‘d usually encounter.”
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