The house martins prospected the back of the house today. They didn’t really settle, but I had time to make some sketches and I still have some hope that they might yet nest in one of my seven boxes. The male was displaying, drooping his wings, singing with great vigour and fluffing up his bright white rump.
The landscape watercolour below is a study from the field near Gilling East village hall. There is a magnificent old oak and a very old section of hedgerow. For me the scene sums up the last few days. Blue sky and intense greens of trees. Soon these fresh greens will start to darken. Arguably, trees look at their very finest at the moment. Four swifts which breed in the nearby village hall are passing low above the oak.
I am still not convinced that the swifts have started their incubation full time yet and there could be a third egg on the way. The pair spend a lot of time mutual preening, especially on arrival in the box and just before departure. This bonding is of great importance as incubation duties mean they will spend much time apart over coming days and weeks.
One swift bought in a bunch of grass today. This is probably gathered from a field where hay cutting is taking place. Because swifts don’t land to collect nest material I imagine it swooped low over and caught some grass blown upwards on the breeze.
A third bird appeared again today. It is folowing our breeding pair. I think this might be a bird that prospected here last year and very much hope that it will be one half of our next pair.
Below, sketches of swifts mutual preening.