Yesterday, following an industrious morning, we decamped to Stony Stratford for lunch and a little pre-holiday shopping, to garner a few requisites for my trip to north west Scotland. Thicker fleece, waterproof trousers, that sort of thing. I must be the antipathy of the quintessential sun seeker.
By late afternoon, we were itching for some fresh air and nature, though with all the wet weather, 'itching' is probably an ill-advised term to use. Biting midges are making the most of the conditions at HESC, so I was hoping that the wind would keep them at bay, or at least offer us some respite from incessant attack.
Other insects were finding the meteorology challenging, too. It was only due to Our Lass's keen eyes that any damselflies were seen, mostly Azure but with a few Common Blues, all tucked away in the vegetation, riding out the 'storm'.
As ever, during bad weather, a Song Thrush was singing his heart out from a song post hidden by some trees. There were brief choruses of other bird song, mainly warblers, as the necessary business of defending a territory carried on, regardless of the rain.
Following a walk along a sheltered path between two hedges, which was where most of the midges were congregated, we took refuge in the Far Hide. Looking out over the main lake, there were very few waterfowl to be seen, a couple of Mute Swans, a smattering of Canada Geese, a pair of Great Crested Grebes, the odd Coot and the inevitable gaggle of Cormorants. Very little in the way of ducks or waders.
The music from a nearby festival carried into the river valley and gave a surreal feeling to proceedings, as we watched the patterns formed on the water surface by successive gusts of wind and listened to the various bands.
Whilst our quota of duckage may have been
So it was a pleasant surprise to feel in the thick of things, as hundreds of hirundines and several Swifts, hunted over the surface of the lake and the bordering vegetation. The bulk of this aerial armada was made up of House Martins and Swallows, with just a few Sand Martins to be seen amongst them. The twittering of Swallows is such a happy sound to my ears, only bettered by the gentle buzz of a contented Martin. And, boy, were they contented. The flock must've been feeding on a huge, invisible (to our eyes) cloud of insects, as the action was non-stop. Swooping, soaring, swivelling and scything, the massed ranks of blue and black cut a swathe through the air, and hopefully the midge population. I only had the camera on my phone to record this and inevitably failed miserably in the attempt.
|Swallows and House Martins in action