The House Martin

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In my garden are barns that were built some 500/600 years ago- in the reigns of Henry V , Henry VIII, Elizabeth I etc !! -- and have been home to that plucky little bird for all those years . Here now the chicks are in their nest with very busy adult birds feeding them and the mostly fine weather we have enjoyed has meant many juicy flying insects to bring to their open gapes.

What truly magical is that this little and beautiful bird , weight about 19 grams (weight of a small bag of crisps). It flies here from Sub Saharan Africa -- The Congo, Namibia , Zambia etc. Some 5000 miles! Feeding on the wing and resting at night . Facing all the weather and winds of March/ April and sadly dying if we have late snow storms as they overfly the Swiss Alps . And the likes of residents of Malta and Cyprus catching them in sticky nests as delicacies to eat! How do they navigate I wonder? By sighting the sun? Magnetic lines?

Arriving here in late April/May, they invariably fly to the site they knew from last year. Stunning thing when you think of it and how do the fledglings of the previous year know where to go?

A real wonder of nature and hopefully one that has been observed by many more during this restricted movement caused by Covid-19.

(Bird numbers are greater and the collective singing has been wonderful- reducing know as the weeks go by . )

Long may the House Martins come here -- and we will see them fly away in September as they find their way back to southern Africa.

A magical part of nature and, hopefully, timeless.

One very pleased observer-

Ralph Warburton

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