House Martins and Swallows

House Martins and Swallows (well these are just HM)
As many of you will know (UK readers at least) we are experiencing, here, what is often known as an Indian summer at the moment (although being the UK that could change pretty quickly), so although we are approaching mid September today was bright, sunny, and warm; warm enough for me to remain in shorts (a little aside I am way more comfortable in shorts than trousers). 

Anyway what that meant for me was after dropping the little lady at school, I decided to fight through the cold virus that has seized my body and head out for a mornings stroll. 

As always at this time of year I was hoping for migrants....


A Moment to Pause


After leaving the church yard, and on my way to the old lock area, I stopped at the brow of the hill and just took in the view for a while. Below me the fields and bushes stretched out over the river towards Cosgrove and the canal arm, it is a wonderful place to just stand and look sometimes, and it is such a shame that the local football team (MK Dons) have acquired a huge chunk of the land in order to build a training facility, hopefully us locals can put a stop to it!

Take a look here to know more Save the Fields at Cosgrove

I've digressed again, sorry..

So there I stood for a good few minutes (I could have sat but the bench was dew covered), below me I watched as a couple of Jays hunted for nuts below an old oak, a Little Egret flew along the river channel, a flock of Mallards flew up spooked by local dogs, and corvids of all kinds made the area their own. All the while above me European Barn Swallows and House Martins filled the air with their manic twittering calls. It really was a magical moment.

House Martins and Swallows

After my earlier pause I headed into the old lock area and it became very apparent that the area was alive with birds, more alive than in many visits, Goldfinches and Tits were all over the seed heads, a family party of Blackcaps passed by me "chacking" as they went and Dunnock and Robin were moving all over.

I continued along the path until I was beside the old lock itself and my first passage migrant of the autumn popped up: a stunning Spotted Flycatcher began hunting from the tops of all the nearby trees.I chased it around a few trying to grab a decent photo but they can be pretty flighty as they search for insects.

Spotted Flycatcher - Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes
Spotted Flycatcher - Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes

Spotted Flycatcher - Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes
Spotted Flycatcher - Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes


While on my chase I spotted a couple of Lesser Whitethroats feeding in the scrubby bushes that border the canal high above my current position, and while watching these two beautiful warblers as the ducked in and out of the brambles I was joined by a huge party of Swallows who filled the air with their aerial flights of acrobatic excellence, as well as at times the over head telephone wires, this was clearly a group still preparing for their long flight as it was a mixture of Adults and many, many younger birds.

European Barn Swallow - Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes
European Barn Swallow - Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes


Turning back to the path the Spotted Flycatcher gave me some wonderful demonstrations of how to catch insects on the wing, and as it did it was joined on the tops of the surrounding trees by a second huge flock, this time of House Martins, again young and old.

Young House Martins
Young House Martins

An Adult House Martin
An Adult House Martin
 
House Martin - Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes
House Martin - Old Wolverton, Milton Keynes

Adult and Young House Martin
Adult and Young House Martin

Young House Martin
Young House Martin


Slow Walk Home

Rather than head off around the patch I let the cold bug get the better of me and headed home along the river, only stopping to enjoy excellent views of Little Egrets as they flew down stream passed me (they may be way more common than they used to be but I still get a thrill when I see these pretty little herons). As well as a pair of Common Buzzards as they slowly gained height circling on a thermal.

Little Egret - Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes
Little Egret - Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes

Little Egret - Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes
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Little Egret - Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes
Little Egret - Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes

Little Egret - Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes
Little Egret - Wolverton Mill, Milton Keynes



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