Last of the martins struggle to find food

PUBLISHED: 15:15 06 October 2006 | UPDATED: 22:16 28 May 2010

The dry summer has meant that it is a poor conker crop this year, but apart from that, the autumn is progressing as expected. At the time of writing, the last few house martins are buzzing around low over the rooftops. These are birds from late broods and

The dry summer has meant that it is a poor conker crop this year, but apart from that, the autumn is progressing as expected.

At the time of writing, the last few house martins are buzzing around low over the rooftops. These are birds from late broods and will be brothers and sisters.

I always take the time to watch them, as it is a last chance to enjoy a taste of summer.

They are never quite the same at this time of year though with a chill in the air.

Food is clearly harder to find with few flying insects around and I almost wish they would head off south straight away to get to Africa where it is considerably less of a struggle. I watched a hobby outside my office window on September 27. I am lucky in that I get to see these dashing falcons regularly from my desk in spring, summer and autumn.

It was feeding on migrant hawker dragonflies that had gathered over the sheltered car park that day.

The amount of time and energy it devoted to feeding by swooping down at high speed and expertly catching the insects in its feet was very impressive and also meant it was a permanent distraction as I sought to get on with my work.

It was briefly joined by a second bird that may have just been passing through the area, but it was this individual that really got me thinking with its frantic activity.

There was real purpose about its actions and to be able to watch a hobby for so long in the same area was a rare treat, as they are notoriously mobile.

I had my suspicions come the next day as to why it had been behaving so and I was rather pleased to be proved right.

There was no sign of it at all, or the following day, and it had clearly migrated after a day of 'fattening up'.

It was the last I would see of hobby this year from my personal hobby viewing spot.

That hobby probably went to roost that evening after its day of feeding and then woke the next day to make its way south during the day (birds of prey migrate by day), departing probably a couple of hours later via the south coast from somewhere like Dorset out across the English Channel.

Really quite amazing and a highlight of my week.

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