Living and working on the farm means I come face-to-face with some of Britain’s most impressive wildlife day in, day out – but rest assured I am never complacent about the natural beauty around me! In fact, one of my favourite ways to spend a little downtime is wandering through our fields, looking out for birds. So, to mark the start of summer (and the return of some of our favourite feathered friends), here’s a little ‘I spy’ of birds I’ve seen lately.
With their forked tails and quick, swooping movements, Swifts are an iconic sight during the summertime in Britain. They are usually seen between April and August after returning from Africa, where they spend the winter in warmer climates. Did you know that Swifts are actually monogamous, and breed in the same pair year after year?
Here at the farm, we’re over the moon to see that our Swifts have finally come back, after a long wait for their safe return. They like to nest under our pan tiled roof house and the surrounding farm buildings, and are a real part of summer for us. We love watching them glide as they catch flies, filling the skies with their loud screeching sounds.
Swallows and House Martins
Like the Swift, Swallows and House Martins come back to the UK after spending the winter in the southern hemisphere. They can usually be seen between March and August, and are easy to spot thanks to their forked tails and glossy blue backs. Did you know that swallows like to nest near large animals such as cows and horses?
At Hillfarm, many Swallows and House Martins have returned from their migration and taken up residence in their old haunts. We have to be very careful not to disturb the nests left behind during the winter, because they come back to the same spot and – after a quick spring clean and a bit of maintenance – reuse the nests for the next batch of eggs and chicks.
Nightingales are secretive and very rare birds, which only tend to be seen (or heard) in Suffolk and surrounding counties including Kent, Essex, Norfolk and Sussex. They’re known for their beautiful birdsong, and although both the male and female bird are identical in appearance, it’s only the former that actually sings.
A few nights ago at the farm house, as we drew the curtains, Sam and I heard a nightingale sing loud and proud outside. We’re very lucky to have one living here on the farm, and whenever we hear it we always stop what we’re doing and take the time to appreciate its unique sound.
Lapwings are rare and distinctive-looking birds, especially thanks to the long, wispy crest on top of their heads. They can be seen all year round in wetlands and among crops, and are very fond of farmland. Did you know the Lapwing chicks can run around almost instantly after they’ve hatched?
We’ve spotted Lapwing nests and eggs in our borage fields this year – one nest has three eggs in it, and the other has four (see picture below). The birds sit in the middle of the field and fly off at any sudden movement, so it’s quite difficult to find the nests. Thankfully after an hour and a half of searching, Sam finally found them, and we’ll be taking extra care not to disturb them. We can’t wait for the eggs to hatch – Lapwing chicks look like black balls of fluff and run around like wild things!
And last but not least, we have a new baby blackbird on the farm (see above). He or she is adorable!
What birds have you spotted near your home this year? We’d love to see your photos – we’re @hillfarmoils on Instagram and Twitter, so give us a follow and let us know!
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