Monday, 4 July 2016

2nd July - And I'm Willin'

The weather once again held the centre stage, I have been in Germany last week, and there it was warm with sunny periods, but they were also plagued with the showers that kept moving through.  Back in the UK on Friday we were treated to dark grey skies and more persistent showers some of which were very heavy.  Family commitments during Saturday kept me home, but the weather was much the same, however towards the evening the showers seemed to skip past on either side of us, and the sun came out.

The garden has been quite active with young birds such as Blue and Great Tits appearing on the feeders, and on the bird bath.  The Blue Tits in particular seem fascinated by the water, and as many as three can be seen on the edge of the bath.  In the morning a Nuthatch appeared, I can't recall ever seeing one in the garden during the summer, they are usually a very sporadic winter visitor.  This one looks like a young bird recently fledged who has found an easy way to feed.


Late afternoon a Buzzard drifted over the garden low, we are used to the Red Kite doing this, and there had been one about earlier on, but a Buzzard is not that common.  As it came over the House Martins all let out their alarm calls, and the air around the Buzzard was full of House Martins.


The House Martin nest in the house opposite was very busy.  The young can be heard calling and the adults are constantly swooping up to feed the young birds.  You can just make out the young bird at the entrance to the nest.


getting closer you can see that they are not far away from fledging.  I think there are three definitely two birds in the nest, and every so often the adults fly around calling as if to encourage them to leave.


I turned my attention to trying to photograph the House martins as they flew overhead.  At times they would slow down and glide, and this was probably the easiest way to photograph them.


Once they started to twist and turn it was very difficult to keep them in the view finder.


As I watched the House Martins I picked up a slighter darker bird, and as I followed it with the camera I realised that it wasn't a House Martin but a Swift.


For some reason Swifts are an extremely rare find around Four Marks.  Unlike the Swallows and House martins they need tall, old buildings to nest in.  We have old but most of these are very low rise house and buildings, the taller ones are all new, with little opportunity for nesting holes.

At this time of year you can see and hear them screaming around the houses and buildings in Alton and Alresford, just a few mile away, but very rarely are they seen in the sky over Four Marks.  I suspect this bird, and a second one I saw a little later, were now moving away from the nesting areas, and starting the long journey back down south.


I will usually see one or two birds about this time of year, so it was fortunate I was out in the garden this afternoon.

It was then back to the House Martins.  I noticed that the adults to the nest opposite would come into the left of the house and nest as I look at it, and then curve around over my garden, dip down and then swoop up to the nest.  I picked this bird up as it came at me on my left, the nest being to the right and behind it.  I captured it as it began to turn, and as well as a bill full of insects, you can see the bird has turned its head as if to look towards the location of the nest just before it completes the turn and swoop to the nest. 


Alarm calls then rang out again, and even lower over the house the Buzzard returned, but this time trailing sticks from its talons.  It seemed to want to gain height, have passed quite low over me, and started to spiral, giving me the chance to photograph it.


As well as the sticks and small branches it would appear to have something in its talons, it is difficult to completely identify, but I would guess that this is a Woodpigeon squab, taken off the nest in one of the trees close by.  This would then explain the twigs as well caught in the talons.

The Buzzard eventually gained height and headed off in the direction of Old Down Wood, where there is a nest.  A little later it was back, again coming in low over the houses and trees and heading back to where it had come from earlier, no doubt whatever it had taken then, more remained, and it was back for some easy picking.

Finally it was nice to see that the Starlings that have recently fledged are now starting to gather together in the trees, their squabbling being heard all around us.  They are always good entertainment at this time of year.


It had been an interesting hour in the garden, going to show that you do not have to go too far away to witness some interesting behaviour, and also to pick up a patch year tick!

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