September 2nd- bilberry scrumping, house martins hatch and September swifts

A lovely walk with the boys on the moors near Helmsley this morning with the primary aim of scrumping bilberries. We found some really scrumptious berries near the old wood ant’s nest; our purple hands and faces were proof of how great they tasted! Small groups of swallows moved north to south just above the heather, crossbills roamed around the conifers and meadow pipits ‘squeaked’ overhead as they too flew south. The moor is still tinted purple by the small percentage of heather still in bloom, whilst the heather that has gone over is now a rich sepia colour. The mass of heather is broken only by bright olive green bilberry leaves. The sky was bright but with building leaden clouds racing along on a brisk, but warm southerly wind.

Our house martins hatched yesterday morning; three chicks set to fledge in the final third of the month. Their first two days have been largely warm and should have provided the adults with a good opportunity to gather food. Meanwhile a second pair continues to occupy a nest box without breeding.

The pond has seen frequent visits from female southern hawker dragonflies. They crash around the edge of the pond laying their eggs near the water but not in it. They are fearless big green dragonflies and common in garden ponds. We have found that they particularly like laying on an old log which floats near the bank. Sketches to follow.

Swift diary
Six swifts continued to grace the skies over the village yesterday. Their chicks fledged several days ago but they linger as if they too appreciate that the last two or three days have been more than a match for much of the height of our summer. They have at times put on fine screaming displays, especially around sunset. Seeing the occasional pair of swifts in September is not unusual, but to see a party screaming over their nest site this late is a first for me.

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