September 14th- September dawn, late house martin brood and studio pond progress.

I painted one of my favourite lockdown walk views again on Saturday morning. The Holbeck is now quite clogged with summer vegetation compared to the sketches I did in spring. It was a glorious sunrise with a heavy dew on the grass with just enough wind to prevent mist from forming. The dawn chorus consisted of robins singing their soft winter territorial song. But above there was a very transitory chorus of migrant birds moving south. Siskins and meadow pipits were calling almost constantly, sometimes too high to find. Siskins were scarce last winter and in spring, but around midsummer they suddenly started moving over the east coast in large numbers. A sizeable flock spent the summer in gardens here in the village. They fed almost entirely on aphids in fruit trees- behaviour I have not seen before. I think that they could be common on garden feeders this winter.

House martins gathered around our house at the weekend. It was a chance to study some different plumages. The sketch shows a bird which fledged this summer. It has duller quite brown plumage compared to adults save some glossy blue on the back, but the real distinguishing feature is the white outlined tertial feathers. Most adult birds are looking very worn now. The other sketch shows our two week old young in the nest. They are cutting it so fine. Fledging will be around 22nd September all being well, but then they have to build up flying strength to migrate to Africa. I wonder how many of these very late broods actually make it? Hopefully this all bodes well for the start of a colony next year though. I often think of our swifts arriving back during the winter months. Now I will will eagerly await our house martins too. 

I have attached some pictures of our pond finished at the start of June. It is establishing so well. Dragonflies and damselflies have laid eggs and it is a magnet for birds coming to bath and drink. Great diving beetles have bred. One of the highlights was sitting having lunch with the family while a female emperor dragonfly laid eggs in the weed in the middle. If you are wondering whether or not to build a pond, just start digging!

To date the pond has attracted emperor dragonfly, brown, southern and migrant hawker, broad- bodied chaser, common darter and azure, common and large- red damselflies.

Below. The studio pond.

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