25th June- young kestrels, a very warm Holbeck walk and 72 swift flypasts!

Tolly and I had a very warm walk along the Holbeck, our most regular walk since lockdown began. We have seen so much change since early April and today’s walk saw us walking through a high summer landscape. The wild cherries are covered in fruit already. We paused to smell the wild roses which will fade soon. Elderflower is fading fast now. We saw dozens of meadow brown butterflies and tortoiseshells. Tolly spotted our first ringlet of the year. Grasshoppers were heard throughout.

Very close to the village we watched a pair of young kestrels hopping around in an ash tree. They are growing well and doubtless beginning to practice their hovering hunting technique. These are probably the offspring of the adult female that has been hovering over local back gardens. This technique of looking for fledglings seems to be very successful judging by the amount of time the bird spends above the gardens. It can be quite disruptive for the garden birds who call in alarm and stop tending to their young.

There was still plenty of bird song still. We heard garden warbler, chiffchaff and lesser whitethroat singing together. Skylarks sang very high above the Holbeck- we played the game of spot the skylark! Yellowhammers and reed buntings sang in hedgerows, sometimes very close to us. It was bliss, not a cloud in the sky, but we felt very hot and walked lazily.

Back at home we sat by the new pond with a long cool drink and watched a beautiful male broad- bodied chaser. We put a perch up by the side of the pond and he was on it within five seconds. This then became his favoured perch. The swifts screamed overhead every few minutes.

Swift Diary

In short, another wonderful day of swift watching. Yesterday evening I decided to tally the flypasts again after the sensational evening of 23rd where there were 104 passes between 8.19-10.15pm. In the same time period yesterday evening we had 72 flypasts, still an incredible number compared to any evening last year. I made yet another watercolour of a swift flypast and tried to concentrate on the perspective of an approaching flock going right over my head.

The swifts performed their first flypasts at 4.24am, waking me instantly. I lept out of bed, made a strong coffee and sat on the lawn to enjoy the show. On several occasions today swifts were so low over my head I could feel the air rush. Wonderful!


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