September swarm


My last post bemoaned the small number of swallows and house martins we were seeing at the time. As hoped, this situation changed and we did end up with our fair share of these delightful guests. As ever, though, we’re hoping for more next year. Having said all of which, I was astonished on my morning run today to see what I estimated to be four to five hundred swallows just down the lane, crowding onto the telephone cables where they could, and filling the skies above just like a swarm of flies. I came back breathlessly to Steve and suggested that perhaps they establish something like a motorway service station en route to Africa… He gave me a bit of a funny look but changed his tune later in the day when we drove back up the same part of the lane to see what we think were almost a thousand swallows in the same place, all vying for a place on the phone line or swirling around, chattering noisily above us. Perhaps the wet weather was putting a stop to their travels? Perhaps they do this every year and I’ve only just been privileged to witness it? Perhaps they do have a motorway service station just down the road from McMurdoston?

Our red squirrels are elusive currently – this happens periodically and I really should establish a journal to record when we see them and when we don’t as there may well be a pattern. I was particularly pleased though to see a gorgeous one on a walk yesterday. He had a large hazelnut in his mouth, still covered in greenery, which made him look as if he had a dramatic green handlebar moustache (hence me assuming he was a ‘he’!). Very handsome. As I drove back up to the house I was also lucky enough to have a male sparrowhawk, all grey metallic weaponry, lead me for quite a distance up the lane. They are unbelievably manoeuvrable and he disappeared in a flash, just as I was getting my eye in.

We have bees back at McM now. They are lovely and calm and we are preparing to harvest a small amount of honey, as we did this time last year. We even managed to capture a swarm which turned up in the field about six weeks ago – we are on a distinctly alpine learning curve but we’re both fascinated by them and determined to keep up the education process.

Last, but not least, I followed a badger from the next farm’s entrance to our drive a couple of nights ago – they trundle like our hedgehogs do (oh yes! – did I tell you we have hedgehogs*?!), until you approach them too closely and then they’re off like Olympians.

*We had a bonfire today and spent a good thirty minutes turning it over beforehand checking for unwanted visitors. We found a toad, who lives to fight another day, but thankfully no urchins, as they are know in these parts.