Country diary: A swift hunting among house martins is a joy to savour – Rights History
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Country diary: A swift hunting among house martins is a joy to savour

Back Dale, Derbyshire: Detached from the wider southward migration of its kind, the lone bird is like a wolf among dogs

The sky was intermittently blue and weak sunshine sparked a faint chorus of grasshoppers. Otherwise, this was a landscape wrung dry of all summer and the grasses were grey, the thistles dead, if flossed with cottony seed. The only sounds were the long-drawn notes of young buzzards that were suffused with a sense of melancholy.

There were seven birds – adults and immatures – careering at one another in mock squabbles, or they would flap away with deep rhythmic wingbeats, before coming about and paddling up on the bluffs of warm air. Perhaps it was the way that their movements perturbed these rising currents, but 50 house martins and swallows circulated among them to feed, like children perhaps, playing but oblivious around the slower limbs of walking adults. It was a glorious, slow-twisting gyre of different flight modes.

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