A mad half-hour in the skies above the back garden here in Surrey. At 11.45hrs I happened to glance out of a window and saw a handful of hirundines in view. I grabbed the binoculars and walked out to the stirring sight of an enormous flock of House Martins, slowly making their way south-eastwards. They were widely scattered and numbered at least 700 birds. The morning had been very wet, with pulses of heavy rain driven by a blustery south-westerly wind, and this flock was passing through on such a pulse. I kept my eyes to the skies and was rewarded half-an-hour later by another 250 House Martins, heading on a more south-westerly bearing - this was also during another burst of heavy rain. Over the following three hours, and with a gradual improvement in the weather, the hirundine stream didn’t stop, but certainly was not as spectacular. A total of 1175 was the final total.
There does seem to be a clear line of movement across my immediate local area. Between our house and Nork Park, maybe half a mile away to the south, is an east-west dip. This dip acted as a flight line with many of the hirundines today, and certainly has done in the past with autumn thrushes and finches. It is a flight-line that I successfully watched last October/November and intend to do so again in the coming weeks.
My only regret is that I wasn’t looking out of the window earlier, although I was outside between 08.00 - 08.30hrs and nothing appeared to be moving then.