Sunday 29 April 2012: Migration
It's a long time since we've had such persistent heavy rain and high winds. The rain battered the bedroom window all night,pelted towards us by the north-easterly gale, and then it carried on for most of the day! By late afternoon the storm had finally passed and the dogs and I felt the need for some fresh air and exercise.
We went down to Ferry Meadows, mostly because there are surfaced paths and I didn't fancy sliding through mud. However, I still got wet feet as stretches of the path were flooded, for the first time this year. The river was brown, swollen and turbulent - poised to spill over its banks. I could see the water level rising in the river and lakes as we walked round - I'm sure there'll be flooding by tomorrow.
The main feature of the day was the arrival of a huge number of migrant hirundines - the air was filled with chattering swallows, sand martins, house martins and swifts. But mostly swallows - hundreds upon hundreds of them, swooping over the lakes and the flooded grassland, trying to refuel after their long journey. At one point I was amazed to see a whole group of sand martins and swallows land on the path to rest and preen, something I've never observed before.
Of course I hadn't taken my good telephoto lens, as the skies were so grey and I hadn't been very optimistic that there would be anything much to photograph. But luckily I had packed my old 55-250mm lens, and spent a fair bit of time trying to catch a swallow in flight. This was my best attempt - certainly not perfect, but I was quite pleased given the very low light levels, the speed at which they travel and the quality of my lens!