A visit to the Abbeystead area last Friday was rewarded in more ways than one but not least because it was discovered that one of the adult Spotted Flycatcher at Christ Church was still on territory. I think my surprise about this was fuelled by the weather which was more reminiscent of late October than late August and continues to be so as I write and is forecast to do so for the foreseeable future, and on Friday seeing the bird gave the distinct feeling I was observing a winter visitor rather than a summer one. I have well documented the demise of the House Martin's at the church in 2009 but early in the spring I had appreciated that birds had arrived back at their nest sites early in some areas, in a few cases in the first week of April but little did I know that the main arrival wasn't going to be until much later this year.
There was two distinct arrivals of the House Martin, birds that left wintering grounds in Africa early had the weather in their favour and in fact a pair in Scotland were reported nest building in the second week of April. But the good fortunes of the early-birds was short lived, and the main arrival of birds from mid-April to mid-May were held up in Southern Europe by bad weather but with an improvement in the weather the situation also improved for the House Martin's and the second wave of birds started to arrive of which - by the last week in May - the 'tail end' coincided with the 'mega' movement of Painted Lady butterflies also from Southern Europe and of which I personally counted up to 150 in the Clougha/Birk Bank area on Saturday 30 May.......But the House Martin's never did arrive at Christ Church in 2009 and end of year records will perhaps indicate the significance of this puzzling non event at Abbeystead.
Unfortunately to accompany this post I have no decent images of the House Martin but have found this stunning one of the Willow Warbler from David Cookson which is yet another species heading towards the 'Red List'. A decrease in numbers of which was commented on here http://birdingaldcliffe.blogspot.com/ as far back as 7 June 'Sunday Service'......so perhaps JC is going to be proved correct after all.