July 3rd- house martins and struggling swifts

The house martins have been feeding low all day. They are very adaptable feeders in poor summer weather, perhaps more so than swifts. Their extreme manoeuvrability enables them to fly between trees and take insects close to or even off leaves. In windy, cool summer weather look for them on the sheltered side of woods and hedges. Sometimes in dull weather their dark plumage blends against the canopy and all the eye can see is white marks moving around. This is their bold white rump and underparts which show up really well against the dark foliage.

Back at our house martin nest I am studying the behaviour as I have with swifts. I make lots of sketches of them and can tell the male from the female. As far as I can tell the male is never far from the nest. He visits frequently throughout the day. I assume that this is to allow the female to go off and feed well before she, hopefully, lays eggs. She joins him in the nest several times a day and thus far has always come in to roost.

Swift Diary
Little change to report. All fast swift action has stopped since 27th June. This morning at least one adult stayed to brood the young who are now about 16 days old. I sketched an adult brooding young late in the morning. I have rarely seen a swift so fluffed up- a measure of the struggle this spell of weather is. The forecast doesn’t look good with more very high winds expected on Sunday, particularly to the east of the Pennines.

I am conscious, especially at this stage in July that each day I don’t see prospecting swift action will not be regained because they will leave at the same time as the adults in early August. That is assuming they return, which I am sure they will if the weather improves. I wrote recently about swifts teaching you to enjoy the moment. Already I am dipping into my memory bank to recall observations of wonderful swift activity last week when on one evening I watched 104 flypasts in less than 2 hours! Compare that to this last week. No flypasts in 7 days.

Below. Male house martin guarding nest.

Below. House martin flight studies.

Below. Swift brooding chicks and adult collecting food in throat.

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