Late August sunshine days spent digging out a drain. It is a winter emergency drain for the time when the heavy rains come and water flows down Sticky Lane, across the bottom yard where a lawn has grown over the years across the cobbled farm yard, and on down to the stream in the valley. Turf has blocked the flow causing the whole area to be saturated last winter, thus a summer task is to restore the water course, a job I would have done in a single day years ago. Now it is taking me three days, with the need for frequent breaks to relax in the shade and sit watching the success of the House Martins feeding their second batch young.
My spring pessimism over our lack of Martins was undone by a single pair now bringing off their second brood, not a huge population by past year’s numbers, but so good after some years with none at all nesting on the house. While our swallows have already gone from here, perhaps grouping further south for their migration, the House Martin flock – the first brood and the second yet to leave the nest – make a wonderful sight in the mornings and build real hope of many returning from Africa next year.
And all the time vapour trails across the soon-to-be-autumn sky tell of plane loads of passengers in transit to holiday and business destinations. It is hard to resist turning to the Flight Radar 24 ‘app’ to check on their flights, whether it is Edinburgh to Malaga, Gatwick to Orlando or Lima to Amsterdam. They all track across our airspace.
And soon it will be our House Martins departing, south across Europe, over the Mediterranean and North Africa and further south still. Then seven months, or so, to wait on their arrival home.
Back to my drain digging.