Swallows, Martins, Swifts and other birds

Swallows, Martins, Swifts and other birds
May 4, 2011 Adrian Walters

Although the Swallow (Hirundo rustica) arrives on the Sudbury riverside in early April generally the numbers remain very low at that time. It is not until May that the skies above the meadows become busy not only with swallows but also House Martins (Delichon urbica) and one or two early returning Swifts (Apus apus). It is a joy to see these birds and although each year numbers continue to dwindle in our towns and countryside they are attracted to the riverside pastures on account of the vast array of insects to feed on. Now that the cattle are being turned out to pasture, the insect numbers will increase markedly. Later this month we shall see the late returning migrant Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata), another declining species. With plenty of food available and suitable nesting habitat, several pairs of these extraordinarily acrobatic birds will raise broods on the riverside. More about them later this month. Finally on the theme of birds the fist Swan cygnets (Cygnus olor) began hatching out this week. There is simply nothing more engaging to watch than a pround female (pen) swan out on the water with her young brood.