Our friends from Africa

The arrival of the flycatchers in May is always a big deal for me. They have come as far as the swallows and they have massive understated charm. They sit on twigs waiting for insects to pass, dart out, grab their prey and return to the branch. They have bright deep brown eyes and are a pale brown with attractive, delicate markings. They are touchingly unafraid of humans. They nest near buildings in the most ridiculously open spots. Here is a photo of a brood of four chicks that successfully fledged about a week ago in a nest we passed everyday. Now that we have done our job of keeping predators from their young, the whole family has gone off to another part of the wood.

The swallows continue to display in the gardens amazing us with their ability to fly in and out of the pop holes we created for them in our sheds. They bring so much activity to the gardens and any minute will be joined by crowds of house martins and swallows from the north. As they move south they use the gardens as a staging post to stock up on insects before they press on again.