Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Is it winter already?

I decided on an early morning walk along the cliff top path this morning, before the dog walkers and the joggers had been there.

I was rewarded with some good views of the solitary Snow Bunting that had first appeared a few days ago. The light was awful and it soon disappeared from the vicinity of the path.

What was really amazing this morning was the huge passage of House Martins. Without a video it is impossible to convey the magnitude of it. Every dot or speck above is not dirt on the lens but a passing House Martin. I tried to count them in tens as they went passed but failed completely to keep up with the number. There were hundreds going through every minute and this continued for about an hour and a half. It was difficult to estimate the total number in that time but even at the conservative end it must have been at least 30,000 and possibly a lot more as they were moving along the cliff top and also lower down and further out. Very few seemed to be passing further inland behind me, where there seemed to be good numbers of Barn Swallows, albeit only about 10% of the House Martin numbers. Even after 0800 hrs, when it had slowed down there were still hirundines passing through all the time. There are usually one or two big days of Swallow and Martin passage each Autumn but I think that this was the most spectacular I've seen. Considering how the numbers of House Martins have declined in the UK the question of where they all come from springs to mind.

This afternoon was a different matter, spent mainly looking at empty skies at Dungeness, save an all too brief and distant view of a largish raptor that seemed to land somewhere behind Lydd Airport. Jack and I had left Bockhill and ventured out of the area after reports of a Booted Eagle flying over the reserve. The views I got were not enough to say I saw it, and certainly too distant to comment on any debate about the birds identity.

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

A big passage of House martins over hadlow this afternoon Tony. Your right about it being impossible to count them!