June 26th- curlew and swifts at dawn and house martins in nest box

I was woken again at dawn. The dawn chorus is surprisingly strong still. Robins have all but stopped singing now but blackbird and song thrush alike are still singing vigorously at about 3.30am. I went out into the garden at 4am hoping to see the first swift flypasts. It is a wonderful, peaceful time, fresh with a chance to witness the sunrise. This morning there was a bit more high cloud than recent mornings. The cerulean blue was crossed with rosy stripes.

A curlew burst into song as it passed low over the village, flying north towards the cut hay field. They have been feeding there in the early hours of light. As I listened to that evocative bubbling call three swifts powered in towards our eaves screaming as they went. What a glorious juxtaposition of species and one I would only have seen by waking very early.

Non- breeding swifts piled in towards the eaves several times before 9am. They were almost impossible to count as they criss- crossed each other in fast swerving flight. There was lots of landing on the walls today. Some individuals paused in a clinging position before being displaced by another. All the swift activity attracted a pair of house martins. Quite quickly they were in one of my nest boxes.

I have been hoping to attract martins since we moved here in 2017. They have raised my hopes before by entering a box but not staying. Whether they stay or not it was wonderful to have house martins around. The pair was in and out of the box for most of the morning. In the afternoon one bird was nearly always present. It was great opportunity to make some watercolour studies of one of my favourite summer visitors. Their calls bring back very happy memories of my childhood when they used to nest by my bedroom window. Like swifts they are a real soundtrack of summer.


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