Pure birding

There are times when the birding is just so easy, just so pure, that rarity and place are but irrelevances. This afternoon was such a time.

I was at Canons Farm, the light overcast sky and modest NW breeze giving a decidedly autumnal feel to proceedings. I scanned the sky to the south and east and could see a few hirundines wheeling up high. A closer look revealed that there were more behind them - and above them - and as I carried on scanning more and more came into view. My first full sweep revealed at least 500 birds (mostly House Martins) and I followed this scattered flock as they circled above me, gradually heading SW. But as fast as birds left the area others were appearing. At one time there were over 1,000 hirundines on show, all lazily making their way across my field of view. I stood transfixed. I've seen larger numbers (a frankly incredulous 90,000 at Dungeness one September day) and I've seen birds zap through as if time was against them. But to watch a sky full of dots, in no hurry, and in complete silence, added a spectral edge to the event. After a couple of hours they had largely departed. I reckoned on 1900 House Martins and 150 Swallows having been present.

Underneath them the hedgerows were alive (by Canons standards) with Stonechats. Eight to be precise. Sentinels guarding the rapidly maturing season. Leaf fall and earth smell. You can't buy such times...


Factor said…
Sounds fabulous. What a great day!
Steve Gale said…
Neil, it was, surprising considering it was a day largely comprising common birds.
bob smith said…
Seems to me Steve you could make a haiku from your last lines... stonechats guardians of the maturing season
leaf fall
earth smell
needs a bit of tidying up ... perhaps stonechat guardians
of the maturing season
leaf fall, earth smell
Hows that

Best wishes
Bob Smith
Steve Gale said…
That's most kind Bob, my very own haiku advisor. How many years has it been since we last met? Too many, I fear...
bob smith said…
Yes Steve a long time. I'm still here at Worcester Park watching my patch. I also have a patch in south west France-our garden near the Pyranees. Amazing number of birds . 99 species over and in since 2010.
Regarding haiku=don't know if you have read Wing BeatsBritish Birds in Haiku. There are a couple there on Stonechat.

Best Wishes

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