Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Bockhill Hummer

After the huge movement of House Martins yesterday I was surprised when I didn't see one for the first hour I was out this morning. Then as it clouded over they started to move through. Not in the numbers of yesterday, but a steady stream of about 30-50 a minute.

Many stayed around the farm and the fields while others continued their journey along the cliff top. By mid morning there were several hundred circling over the fields and Farm Wood.

Those over the big field occasionally started to settle on the ground in groups of up to about 50 or more. I wasn't at all clear as to why they were doing this. In previous years I've seen them land on the roofs of houses along Kingsdown Lees, almost completely covering the tiles. This has always been in sunshine, when I felt that they were using the warmth of the sun on the tiles to warm up. It couldn't be this that they were doing on the mixture of stubble and newly sprouting winter wheat. As far as I could see they weren't feeding so I would interested in any explanation of this behaviour.

Flying small birds are difficult to photograph and Swallows and Martins are particularly hard. The light was poor. but I suspect that the uniformly grey sky should have been a help rather than a hindrance.

Humming-bird Hawk-moth (Macroglossum stellatarum)

At the edge of Farm Wood Jack drew my attention to a Humming-bird Hawk-moth that very conveniently settled while we were watching it. In my experience it is quite unusual to see them still and in such a good position for a picture. They are totally different to any other Hawk-moth when perched, and look much smaller that the hovering insect does.

I took this picture a couple of years ago in the garden and haven't managed to better it yet. They are migrants and appear in varying numbers each year. This year seems to me to have been quite poor.

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