A week of sun and sausages

The sand martins have begun to return to the nesting holes! Joy unconfined! Proof, if proof were needed, that life is gathering speed in our midst and that we – the watchers and the waiters – are worth the candle.  The wind-blown nesting places which have lain forlorn – and indeed unseen – as we…

Bird in the hand

Today, with another magnificent sunrise, all are gone; well, apart from one or two very late migrators, that is. As the light gradually emerged, it was the sparrows and ducks we heard overhead  – not the sandmartins: their nesting wall was silent and abandoned, though basking in the autumnal sunshine as we passed beneath it…

Season of fruitfulness and unexpected plenty

The weather this last few days has been absolutely glorious and today the country is expecting somewhere or other to break the records for September heat: the hottest it has ever been this late in the year. Up here we have the paradox of Summer clasping hands with Autumn. Everywhere you look, there is plenty,…

Departure day

  To the ones who stay (After the martins have gone and Mahler continues to play) Up on the wire they congregate A few left ‘We’re already late’ . . .   The Jackdaws are the ones who stay They watch their nest holes every day They gaze at empty chimney holes Then grub about…

One season following another

Although the heathland meadow behind Bamburgh Castle is bejewelled with wild flowers of all kinds and though it is only the end of July, you can feel that summer is already preparing to move on – particularly when the weather’s dull or drizzly and rather sorry for itself – and the ebullience of the busy…

Mansion building for beginners

  Just outside the study window, the house martins are resting in their little mud home, intermittently jabbering to each other about this and that as they reflect on the day now drawing to its close. It has been a funny old day, too, cold, dark and wintry to begin with, to be sure, and…

Come one, come all

Although the World Conservation Union in its wisdom has good reason for  putting them on the Least Concern species list, in this household at least concern for the well being of last year’s little family of house martins has known no bounds. We have kept both our fears and our hopes well under control and…

Come unto these yellow sands

Yesterday was, for us up here in the extreme north east of England, the first really lovely day of early summer. After a few weeks in which winter’s temperatures returned with a vengeance and, whatever else was happening with that light in the sky, it remained cold and windy, yesterday we all felt we had…

Welcome hither as is the spring to the earth

It is with something like delirious joy that we can report the return of the sand martins to our dunes.  Forerunners – we hope – to the house martins we’re just longing to welcome back to our part of the world, the first sand martins suddenly turned up last Thursday, resuming their domestic duties in…

Visitor from afar

The other day we were all looking up at the now-empty nests in the church porch of St Aidan’s in Bamburgh. Until a month or so ago they were hives of activity for the extended family of swallows who have summered with us for the last twenty years. In South Africa, a friend has mentioned…

Three (and now four) in a row

Late August is the time when the visitors start to go away, as though the chill in the air pushes them homeward, incapable of withstanding the wind unlike the rest of us, to whom the sand and sea are left. It doesn’t take much for the beach to empty, even in the midst of the…

Three years on, and counting

Last week on the beach we met some visiting New Yorkers  who were excited about seeing puffins on the boat trip they’d booked for the following day. Their dismay was palpable when we said that the puffins had already abandoned the Farnes for a life in the North Sea over the coming months; they really…