Monday, 31 August 2009

The House Martin.

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 as far back as 7 June 'Sunday Service' perhaps JC is going to be proved correct after all.


Brian Rafferty said...

Pete. I thought some House Martins had nested at Christ Church?? They were certainly actively visiting nests at the Church and adjoining house when I was watching the Spot /Flys!! I am not clued up on numbers but I am sure there were some successful breeders.

Don't know if this is of interest but I had a juvenile Marsh Harrier hunting over fields just outside Stakepool this afternoon. Maybe just outside your recording area ??

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks again for comments Brian.

I must accept your records of nesting House Martin's at Christ Church only to add I have made several visits this summer, many simply because I needed to satisfy myself they had deserted the location following a resounding c.15 nests in previous years. I'd suggest out of at least 12 visits I have had evidence of one bird visiting a nest site throughout the entire season. My post should now read 'a significant drop in numbers' but have no intention of editing it to read as such. Your contribution is obviously valuable on the matter.

Colin Bushell said...

Just heard about some Fieldfares arriving in SW Scotland and that's what makes this time of year so enjoyable personally. One minute we're talking about House Martins, the next it's winter visitors. I'll be dropping by during my travels over the next three months Pete.


Pete Woodruff said...

Please do drop by Colin it would be great to bump into you. Just make sure you don't find anything whilst you're here as I get upset and sulk quite easily.

Good UK/Latin America Birding Colin.

Mike Watson said...

Great Action photo. Here's a tip. 'Saving for the web' desaturates photos so, if you want to preserve colours, increase the stauration by at least 10% (depending on the individual photo) before 'saving for web'.
Hudwit is a very good target to look for amongst the masses of Blackwits on this coast. I would not be surprised if some have already slipped through unnoticed. Unfortunately it is one of my few decent blockers so not too soon please;) Keep up the good work. BR Mike

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for comments Mike and encouragement to 'keep up the good work' (I particularly like the 'good' bit) and also for tips on 'dealing' with photographs on the blog. These guys really do get some stunning results and I must say David Cookson especially.

Watching out for the Hudwit!