Spotted fly catcher

Nested, nutured and fledged

Following a short period of reticence, the Spotted fly catcher returned and finished its nest towards the end of June. It could be seen keeping its beady eye on surrounding activity, as it lay on the eggs.

By early July the 2 adults were in and out of the nesting box, feeding the young. Perhaps 3 or 4; difficult to see without causing a commotion.

We’d catch sight of the adults here and there throughout the garden, with their characteristic flying patterns; circling rapidly in mid-flight and returning to their original perch.

By the end of the day on 16th July the chicks had all fledged. The last one to leave can be seen “hovering” on the edge of the box, as it was encouraged by the adults in the nearby birch tree.

What an absolute delight to encounter, for the second year running, such a beautiful little bird raising its family in our garden.

Sounds of March

Croaking chorus

A regular occurence in March – a gang of frogs appear from nowhere and, for a few weeks, “occupy” the pond in front of Studio Hundy. Their characteristic “croaking” can be heard from afar, as you walk down the garden approaching the pond. As they pick up your presence, this transforms into a multitude of “plopping” sounds as all the frogs dive below the surface. For a few minutes, until they gradually emerge again, the only visual evidence of their presence is the large clumps of spawn laying on, or just below the surface.

I managed to capture the croaking chorus by placing my field recorder on the edge of the pond, hiding in the studio, and using a remote extension. It also captures other characteristic Sounds of March in the background!

Croaking away
The surface tension with the spawn reminds me of mercury

Welcome arrivals

Flight is our life

The new beginnings associated with Easter are always accompanied in April/May by a sense of anticipation in nature; awaiting the sighting of the first House Martins or Swallows.   I say sighting, but sometimes it is the awareness of their excitable “chatter”.   It never fails to bring a feeling of jubilance, in the knowledge that these migrants have returned to build or re-build their homes for the summer. 

It is a profound feeling that resonates deeply.  This year it was on Good Friday that I was aware the blue sky had received those welcome dark shadows, flying rapidly in apparent purposeful endeavour.   The depth of this event is, for me, beautifully encapsulated in the poem by Mary Webb published in 1928.

Swallows

The swallows pass in restless companies.
Against the pink-flowered may, one shining breast
Throbs momentary music – then, possessed
With motion, sweeps on some new enterprise.
Unquiet in heart, I hear their eager cries
And see them dart to their nests beneath the eaves;
Within my spirit is a voice that grieves,
Reminding me of empty autumn skies.
Nor can we rest in Nature’s dear delight:
June droops to winter, and the sun droops west.
Flight is our life. We build our crumbling nest
Beneath the dark eaves of the infinite,
We sing our song in beauty’s fading tree,
And flash forth, migrant, into mystery.

by Mary Webb

Reference: Webb, M. (1930)  The collected works of Mary Webb.  Poems and The Spring of Joy. London:  Jonathon Cape, 1928.

Veil painting - swallows (2)
Veil painting watercolour 2018