Saturday, April 23, 2011

Oystercatchers and Swallows

One of the characteristic bird sounds out on the moorlands of Weardale at this time of year comes from oystercatchers that arrive here from the coast to breed. When we were out at Middlehope burn yesterday their calls echoed around the hillside ....

... and we watched several of these noisy courtship chases.


The swallows were back too. Every year at least one pair nest just inside the entrance to this mine level (below) - the tunnel that provided access to the lead veins that were once the source of the mineral wealth of this valley.

The mine tunnel entrance is sealed off for safety but the swallows ...
..... hurtle towards the bars, chattering as though they are excited to be back in this bleak moorland landscape after spending the winter in Africa. 

Here's one coming out of the mine entrance, after checking the state of last year's nest inside. They fly towards the gaps between those iron bars with unabated speed and must have to time their wing up- or down-stroke with incredible precision to ensure that they don't break a wing on the iron grill.

6 comments:

  1. These are unbelievable Phil. I was impressed with the Oystercatchers but the Swallows are incredible shots.

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  2. They're impressive birds, lotusleaf...

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  3. Pity the camera doesn't have more megapixels Adrian, they're fairly small sections of the whole image.

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  4. .... thanks to autofocus, David....can't imagine ever being able to catch them in flight with manual focus...

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