On Leaving

Despite rain and gales

It’s imperative to leave

Martins battle on


n.b. I was very surprised to see a handful of house martins struggling against the fierce Westerlies this evening. The past two weeks of weather have not been conducive to life on the wing locally; let alone commencing a transcontinental migration.

When one sees a pair of herons swooping about in the wind like herring gulls, one fears for the chances of less robust birds like the hirondelles. Having said that there can be few herons experienced in completing controlled landings in gusts of 30 knots or more.

n.n.b. This is NOT a metaphor for Brexit…but a nod of respect to those little creatures fighting the weather to get to Africa as the days shorten.


CLP 29/09/2019

On Rain XI

House martins seek mud

Offers gratefully received

Needed to build nests


n.b. Every other day, for the past fortnight or so, I have been topping up a large puddle in the yard that swallows and house martins have been visiting to drink from and gather mud for their nest building.

Yesterday as many as a dozen house martins were collecting from this hollow that has been made at a point where the tractor has frequently turned. I take the water to top up the puddle from an old concrete trough that stands by the track. Any rain that passes barely wets the grass, let alone forms puddles for the birds.

The Meteorological Office (“Met Office”) is suggesting a long period of rain will commence on Tuesday. They always seem to promise this and always for a Tuesday. It seems to be so much hot air.

I wonder if the forecasts are kept in the Met Office library and tallied up against the actuality?


CLP 01/06/2019

Gathering Nest Materials

It’s been quite dry, so muddy pools, even in the deepest tyre ruts, are rare. This concentrates the efforts of swallows and house martins at collecting mud for their wall-mounted nests into fewer areas, making watching them work easier.

Unlike sparrows, who drop to the ground without a moment’s hesitation, the high-flying swallows and martins circle the puddle at the side of the barns at gradually decreasing heights before landing with an unsteady flutter. There is often a pause on grounding prior to collecting up the sticky earth.

Rarely do these birds carry out their material gathering activity alone. A thin cloud forms from an increasing number of martins and swallows. It spirals around, the sound of sharp, high-pitched cheeps becoming more obvious, before one lands by the dirty brown water, followed by some of the others. The impromptu mixed flock soon disappates over the hedgerows, (still mottled with patches of white flowers), leaving the puddle to settle.

If a solo swallow does appear, it does not pause, but swoops at speed to drink as it flies across the water surface. Meanwhile a passing white butterfly is snatched from behind by a passing sparrow, that nearly chokes on its papery snack.

A rain front is expected in the next forty-eight hours. Hopefully it will last a few days.


CLP 17/05/2019