Saturday, 19 September 2015

The passing of summer

On Sliabh Mannan the turning of the seasons is marked by the the arrivals and departures of migratory species of bird.

In particular we recognise the onset of autumn not just by the yellowing of horse chestnut leaves and the shortening of the hours of daylight, both now very obvious, but by the arrival of the geese and the departure of the swallows.

Interestingly, the first (and so far only) geese that I have seen this year were a skein of Canadas (below right) that arrived on 16th September. In the high moors around here Bean and Pink-Footed geese are usually considerably more common, but these species have yet to put in an appearance.

Meanwhile the hirundine population is thinning. The house martins (top left) seem to be hanging on longest this year but the remaining swallows are almost certainly juveniles (below left) who will wait to gather their full adult strength before departure.

I am never quite certain whether two separate broods can be raised by our feathered visitors during Sliabh Mannan's short summer. Certainly the numbers of sub-tenants that the horses are obliged to tolerate in their stables are now somewhat reduced and temperatures are lower after dark, but there are as yet no frosts and the supply of midges still seems endless.

Just as we welcome the swallows' arrival as a sign of spring, so we are saddened as their departure reminds us that the long and dark winter months will sound be returning.

But nature's cycle is unceasing and the autumn still has much to offer. So out with the new camera and off to search the skies for the arrival of the main geese flocks.

This year I'm looking forward to winter photography armed with 16 MP instead of 6, so I shall be interested to see  the results of what I hope will be significantly improved resolution.