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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Swallows and Martins, Sparrowhawk and Chiffchaff!

One of the advantages of my job working on the roads is that I am regularly somewhere out in the Somerset countryside! Yesterday, the 10th September, I was working near the Quantock Hills at Fiddington, near Nether Stowey. It was a lovely day, and aside from playing with the traffic, I was aware of groups of Hirundines (Swallows and Martins!) on the overhead wires near a farm beside the road. During late Summer these birds regularly gather on cables and wires, often in small family groups, but sometimes in their 100s! They are preparing for their huge exhausting migration to Southern Africa, which still baffles and amazes me to this day, being such small and delicate looking birds!
 Once my job had finished I took my dinner break and grabbed my camera to try and get some shots of these beautiful birds. Ordinarily, they are a nightmare to photograph in flight, they are so quick and small and they can twist and turn unexpectedly, making them extremely difficult to focus on! However, I hoped to take advantage of them coming into land on the wires, and I managed some pictures I was pleased with!
  There was also a family group of Pied Wagtails on the nearby farm building, and they were fiestier birds than I had previously given them credit for! A few times I saw one chasing a Housemartin, not for a brief couple of seconds either, but for almost a whole minute, round and round!! When a Sparrowhawk circled low overhead, the Pied Wagtails even joined the Hirundines to mob it, calling loudly to warn other birds of it's prescence!
  I also watched a Chiffchaff on a garden wall, a tiny Warbler, and at one stage it tried to join the Swallows on the wires, but got chased off or spooked by one of the Swallows, and decided against it!
 There were also a family group of House Sparrows, always a lovely thing to see, especially now they are sadly a fast declining species in the UK.
  All in all, a great addition to my working day, and a much better way of spending my dinner break than reading yet more depressing news in  a newspaper, as I would normally do!

Below are some of the pictures I took;

^^ Above ^^ - Housemartins

^^Above^^ - Sandmartin

^^Above^^ - Swallows

^^Above^^ - Record shots of a Pied Wagtail chasing a Housemartin!

^^Above^^ - Passing Sparrowhawk with accompanying Pied Wagtails and Hirundines

^^Above^^ - A young Goldfinch, yet to get it's distinctive red face!

^^Above^^ - tiny Chiffchaff on a wall.

^^Above^^ - The Chiffchaff approaches the Swallows (top) but is frightened off! (Bottom)

^^Above^^ - Male House Sparrow

^^Above^^ - Hose Sparrow, landing Housemartin and a young Swallow.

^^Above^^ - 'You're not landing here', a young Swallow seems to be telling a Housemartin!

^^Above^^ - The difference between a Housemartin (Left) and a Swallow.

^^Above^^ - Swallows and Housemartins gathering on the overhead wires.