August 14th- robins singing again, wall butterfly and house martin fledging. Also a bonus swift diary!

Each August I look forward to seeing robins freshly moulted into their immaculate autumn plumage. Robins are territorial in the winter and from now you can start hearing them sing again. This song is very different to the loud spring song, it is unhurried, quieter and very sweet to listen to. It seems to compliment the last days of summer when the sunlight is softer and tinted with ochre.

We have seen wall butterflies this week. This seems to a good year for this lovely little butterfly. The impression in flight is of pale orange, but a view of the butterfly settled shows sepia lattice like markings breaking the pale orange ground colour. As their name suggests they like walls to bask on. This last week has seen big hatches of small tortoiseshells and speckled woods. This follows a large hatch of peacocks a couple of weeks ago. In sunny periods there are lots of butterflies to enjoy now. I prune our buddleia back very hard in late April which delays flowering to late summer, This seems to work well to catch this second generation of butterflies. I also provide fruit later on for red admirals, commas and speckled woods.

Our house martin chick fledged this morning. It was a joy to see it fly confidently and quickly high into the sky to join about 25 other house martins. In profile through binoculars I could see the missing feathers on its head where it was attacked. I took a chance moving the chick to another nest box when it was being attacked by a new male. Its father presumably died and the new male probably killed its three siblings. I placed it in a nearby nest box and its mum continued to feed it through to fledging, so one more precious house martin has fledged today. After its maiden flight it landed near a nest box allowing me to make some sketches. It is easily recognisable due to the feather loss on its head, a result of the attack earlier this month.

Swift Diary
Yesterday in cool cloudy weather we were visited by five prospecting swifts. They prospected frequently between 10am- 1pm. This was totally unexpected, our breeding pair have been gone over a week now. After days of hot weather and no swifts where had these birds come from? They behaved very much like young non breeding birds, flinging themselves randomly at the eaves and forming low level screaming parties. It was wonderful to see this behaviour in mid August but another great example of how swifts can surprise us with their behaviour.

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