Everything has it's beauty, but not everyone sees it. - Confucius
Sometimes the picture doesn't have to be perfect; it's the captured moment that counts. - me
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Sunday, 19 April 2009

House Martins and more....

Sunday morning I was up before the proverbial lark, but not the local Robin. He was singing his little song while I was still rubbing my bleary eyes; I’m sure he sits up all night.

I had a plan, House Martins. At one of the local lakes, Willen, a host of them set up home every year under the eaves of the lakeside pub and the fitness centre.

I began to make my way there, grateful it was early, and deserted. It was cloudy, and quite chilly; no sign of the promised sunshine yet, but this part of the lake gets really busy at weekends whatever the weather.

I stopped to take a picture of the lone Black Swan, standing on one of the water sports jump platforms.

Not one of my better shots of him though. He’s been a solitary resident for as long as I can remember, spending his days swimming with the rest of the Mute Swans, and begging what scraps of bread people throw him. I thought to myself, ‘wouldn’t it be nice, if one day his prince or princess came along, to keep him company. He must feel so left out, being the only one.’ Hmmmm, I carried on towards the fitness centre.

The noisy comings and goings of the House Martins are a joy to watch, as they first build their nests, and then rear the next generation. Some of last year’s nests are still there; left by the buildings owners, and some are knocked down after the Martins leave for their winter holidays. They are on the ‘Amber’ list, so it’s good to see their return every year.

Some of last years nests, left untouched.

I looked around the lake, and sure enough there they were. About a dozen at the moment, skimming across the water, but concentrated on just one for a picture.

I watched them for ages, flying low, then high, feasting on the smaller creatures on the wing. I slowly made my way back to the north lake, as a few joggers began their jaunt around the lake. Just ahead of me, tiptoeing through the daisies……

A Common Sandpiper! Not common to me, the first time I’ve seen one. He reminded me of an overgrown Wagtail, the way he rushed about on the grassy bank. I managed a few shots, before he decided to leave.

I was feeling good. First the Martins, then a Sandpiper. And now, standing on a raft with a friend, the resident Barnacle Goose.

Turn round’, I mumbled. And he did; he jumped into the water, and swam closer, giving me a quick pose, before leaving.

I carried on to the north, stopping to chat to an elderly woman walking her poodle. She told me that when her husband was alive, they both used to enjoy bird watching together, frequently going out to different places. These days however, she confines her observations to round here, with her dog.
“Have you seen the black and white Swan?” she asked.
“Black and white?” I queried. “I saw the Black Swan earlier.” I ventured.
“He’s on a nest, with a white one,” she answered, “just over there.” pointing to some reeds just ahead.
I thanked her, and made my way to where she had pointed. This I had to see. And sure enough, there they were, huddled together on a nest.

Unbelievable! Maybe the prince or princess, has turned up in some form.
Now if they mate, I can’t wait to see what the Goslings look like.


  1. Sounds to me like a great walk around the lake Keith and good that the House Martins are returning.

    Great pics of the Barnacle Goose especially the one in flight!

    So this is the surprise and well worth waiting for. Amazing that they've got together in some ways yet, at the end of the day, they're both swans. And yes, the youngsters will be interesting to see - Piebald Swans....? I wonder if this has happened before?

  2. I didn't realise that house martins were on the amber list - and people are still taking down their nests so that they don't get droppings on their window sills or cars! Enjoyed reading about your visit.

  3. Thanks Tricia. It was a pretty good morning, despite the weather being a bit dull.
    I've not heard of the two different types of Swans getting together before, so it will be interesting to see if anything comes of it. I've heard that the Black one is very protective, chasing off any intruders, so I'll have to watch and wait. :)

  4. Cheers Chris. I didn't know myself they were on the Amber list till I looked it up. They certainly seem to do well at this lake though. I'll follow their progress with interest.

  5. Who would ever have thought the House Martin would be in trouble, how sad that so many of our lovely birds are in decline.
    Lovely photos again Keith and it will be interesting to see how things develop with the swans.

  6. Thank you ShySongbird.
    It sad to think that a lot of birds that I used to take for granted when I was younger, are now slowly slipping away in numbers.

  7. You're having a pretty good year so far Keith, and getting your life-list bigger every time I see a new post by the looks of it :-)
    Love that Barnacle Goose.

  8. First time reader! You really did an excellent job snapping that swan nest. Awesome!

    *I Donate To Cornell Ornithology*

  9. Thanks for stopping by Bhavesh, and your comment. Much appreciated.

  10. Cheers Nick. I've already beaten last years number of birds. I think I'm on a roll ;)
    Been busy with work this week so far, so it's all slowed down a bit at the moment. Back out Sunday though, hopefully.

  11. Thank you Oliver for stopping by, and your kind comment.

  12. Great Stuff, Keith, I like the shots of the Common Sandpiper and the Barnacle Goose - very sharp.

  13. Thanks Graham. That Barnacle Goose is usually on the far side of the lake, and the only one there. I was lucky that morning, he'd decided to briefly come out of hiding for a picture.

  14. Pied Mute Swans, that would be different Keith. The Common Sandpiper was a great find and a nice picture to go with it.

  15. Thanks Roy. Can't wait to get back there, and check on their progress. Have to admit the Common Sandpiper ID had me stumped, until I was able to get home to confirm it.

  16. don't tell me you are still on the stage of learning? Is it not a work of a professional? For me already one! Sorry sir, just a fan of yours. You always give me a reason to be happy and more appreciative of what i have. You make my day again! thanks for sharing.

  17. Thank you lolit for your very kind words; you'll have me blushing. :)

  18. nice flight shot of the common sand! The one I normally see is Green Sandpiper

  19. Cheers Pete. I was pleased to see the Common Sandpiper, first one for me.