Friday 19 April 2013

And now the Martins have Arrived

Martin Amis, Martin Kemp, Martin Peters and Ricky Martin have all flown into town on a southerly breeze today...

...ok, well no they haven't. But on a run that started off with freezing rain on a freezing morning, and ended 9 and a half miles later with my sweltering body welcoming the cooling drizzle, my body was so playing tricks on me I might well have seen anything. I went, after a diversion to find some earphones that worked, along the Hawton, Farndon, River route, and early on there wasn't very much to see.

But things livened up when I arrived in Farndon. The birds were busy on Wyke Lane, foraging, nest building, and just being happy little tits and finches in general. Great Tits seem to be in great abundance this spring in particular, their "teeeee-cherrrr" calls heard even through radio 4 on headphones when the birds can't actually be seen themselves. Great crested grebes, tufted duck and mallards are all present on the river. The black swan is still doing his avian fugitive thing, failing to blend in with the local mute swans as he chomps through a farmer's crops.

Further round the river, opposite the power station weir, it all started happening. I looked up, and saw two buzzards stackd up over the river. A heron was approaching from the east, as ever a stately sight as it whipped the air with its slow wingbeats. And then, a flock of swallows swooped in from behind me and made their way to feed over the river - I wonder if the weir churns a few insects up into the air for them to pick off. With them, were a few martins of some description, the first I have seen locally this year. I saw brief flashes of white rumps , but can't confirm if they were sand martins and house martins. As I often notice, they seemed to be flying higher than the swallows; they are obviously more safety conscious than their forked taild cousins who swoop low over the water like an aerobatics display team, doing everything but emitting coloured smoke.

No sign of sand martins nesting by the castle this year yet. They didn't sem to nest there last year either. But on the trader barge section of bank, at the backs of the Farndon Road homs, I had a beautiful view of a goldfinch sat in a tree, red face, russet breast, golden wings, as it emitted some bubbling chirps.

All in all, a highly enjoyable if very tiring run.

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