Close encounters of the winged kind

The housemartins are still busy outside el Shacko and I’m beginning to wonder if the reason the nest above the front door looked like it had failed when we first arrived was because it was sabotaged.

The new wooden step directly underneath this nest is now about half an inch thick with bird poo. Not quite dry enough to brush off and not quite wet enough to wash off.

As I sat inside the front porch cleaning the step, the housemartins began to circle and swoop right above my head, stopping just short of getting into the nest, accompanied by animated tweets and whistles. Sometimes single fly-pasts and sometimes arriving in twos; distraction tactics or strength in numbers, I wondered. I sat still and quiet watching them and they gradually got closer, finally desperate or brave enough to get into the nest right above me.

Housemartins inhabit the UK from spring to autumn and spend the winter in Africa. They return to the same nesting site and it’s an offence to disturb or destroy an active nest. They have more than one brood – or is it a clutch – so the nests are either with eggs or young from March to August or even September.

I love watching them. They also chose El Shacko as their home and perhaps they have been coming here for many years. If after they have left for the winter we can encourage the nest a little towards the corner the poo would avoid the step underneath.

I don’t want to stop them sharing our home altogether. Maybe we can fashion a removable and easily washable step cover. Or a disposable bin bag with handles tied round. Maybe a compostable food recycling bag would reach..must remember to bring them next time.

It’s 21:36 and getting dark. The solar fairy lights have come on and the cherry candle is burning. We are on the sofa wrapped in grey deerskin (ok, man made fibre but they feel just as soft) blankets. It’s silent apart from the small battery powered fridge and the faint sound of the housemartins outside the window but even they seem to be stopping for the night.

Time to sleep 💤

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