Arriving at Canons Farm at 07.15hrs, practically the first birds that I saw were a small group of Swallows heading south - my hope that yesterday's movement would continue looked good! I settled down at a vantage point that gave me far-reaching all-round views and waited. It was soon obvious that it was all systems go...
After half-an-hour 1200 Swallows and 70 House Martins had moved through, at a modest elevation and seemingly taking two well defined routes. It was then that House Martins came to the fore, as in the next 30 minutes they numbered a further 730 birds with Swallows mustering 600. The passage then abruptly stopped. I was more than happy with what I had seen, and took myself on a wander around the farm, with one eye on the sky in case the hirundines started up again, which they did at 11.00hrs. There then followed an incredible couple of hours. House Martins started to barrel in, in wide open flocks, up to 700 in 15 minutes then a massive pulse of 1800 in just 10 minutes that included a group of 400 birds.
Geoff Barter showed up, and I was delighted that he did, not only to share in this experience but also to confirm the crazy numbers on show. He timed it well. An enormous swarm had arrived. We stood transfixed as we were surrounded by 2000 birds, in all directions, like gnats on a summer's day. All seemed to be House Martins. They started to feed in a frenzy over nearby fields, then quickly moved off south, being replaced by others that had continued to arrive from the north. There were a few Swallows with them, and as the passage lessened they became more numerous once again. By 12.45 it had quietened down and had virtually stopped by 13.15hrs.
The final totals were a staggering 6710 House Martins (possibly a county record) and 4000 Swallows. This passage seems not to have been replicated elsewhere in the county, another reason why it was good to have Geoff as a witness. What a day.