24 July 2015

Hot Bedroom Action !



I’d like to share with you a video I took recently in my bedroom of some frenzied activity.
I live in a National Trust house ; like many Trust houses it is quite old and being in a rural area we inevitably share the house with ‘uninvited guests ‘  some welcome some less welcome . Slugs, spiders , ants,  wasps and  toads are all regular visitors.  During the night there are strange noises coming from inside the walls scratching, scuffling noises with the occasional loud  ‘boing’ . I re-assure myself that these are probably just mice in cavities in the wall , not sure about the ‘boing’ I imagine that they have a trampoline in there too !  

Probably the most welcome visitors arrive in late April / early May . It was 26 April this year when the House Martins arrived  on warm winds driven North from  Africa.
The nesting begins immediately both adults build cup shaped mud nests on the underside of the eaves where the roof overhangs the wall. Some re-use and rebuild old nests, others ( presumably the young from last year ! )  build new ones using the mud gathered from the edge of field ditches and pools. Most of the nests are on East and South  facing walls but not in direct sunlight as this dries the nest out and can lead to nest collapse and overheating of young  chicks in the nest.
There are generally 4 or 5 eggs in a nest and can be 2 sometimes 3 broods in a year. Both adults incubate the eggs and  feed the young on flying insects , flies , aphids and beetles . They are fast and agile flyers.

The attached video shows two of the young House Martins from  the second brood leaving the nest. It’s fascinating watching the adults luring their young out of the nest for the first time , some take flight straight away others hang for ages to the side of the nest before letting go.



The unusual nest in the video is one that I did a makeshift repair on last year. The nest collapsed and the young birds fell out , so I had to put a bit of rubber matting under the nest  to support it and then replace the two chicks. It seemed to work .

These birds will be around until late Sept , early Oct if it warms up,  then they will head South to Africa . Strangely no one seems to know where they spend the Winter .

Enjoy the sights and sounds of the young birds on their early flight . If you want to see more you can take a walk on the west shore of Windermere near the Car ferry, where you’ll see swallows and House Martins feeding  . Spend some time at Hill Top the home of Beatrix Potter in Near Sawrey and you are likely to see Swallows , House Martins and Swifts around the village at this time of year.

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