September 1st   Leave a comment

The Crail swifts have been gone a couple of weeks and the gloaming is much quieter without their screams (quiet full stop now the herring gull chicks and their attendant adults have moved to the sea). But last night I noticed a large flock of house martins doing what the swifts do, flocking up very high and barely visible, above Crail just as it was getting dark. They were calling like the swifts, although a house martin call is a soft, rippling “prrt” not a scream, as if they too were getting excited about some communal activity. The swifts do it because they roost on the wing and the parties get higher and higher as night falls, probably going up several kilometres and then sleeping intermittently as they glide down between ascents. There is some circumstantial evidence that house martins also roost on the wing like this on occasions during the summer. People watching nests have observed birds coming down to them from a great height at dawn and when intercepted going into the nests they were then very cold to touch consistent with the house martins having been at very high altitude. I watched the house matins last night until I couldn’t see them any longer and it was just as if they were swifts, so I think they were off to roost high over Crail last night.

House martin – they may sleep on the wing like swifts

Posted September 1, 2017 by wildcrail in Sightings

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