For the last four weeks or so, Chris Tynan, of RSPB Liverpool group fame, has been telling me about the House Martins dropping down to collect mud for their nests behind the Green Sefton depot at Ainsdale.
Chris helps things along, like the rest of the team at the depot, by keeping the mud damp beneath the birds’ nests on the eastern face of the remains of the old Toad Hall.
I kept meaning to have a look, but was just too busy (less haste more speed Dempsey) until today, when I called in to see the martins collecting beakfuls of mud just a foot or two away from the back door of the depot.
Splendid furry troosers, long wings, even monstrous louses (see picture below with two birds on, and take a close squint at the back of the bird in the foreground), House Martins are just magical things.
Still more magical when you pause to consider that even now, in this satellite-tagged world of contracting horizons and a shrinking globe, we don’t know where House Martins winter yet.
It’s not often I get this close to them, and it felt a privilege to see these fabulous aerial critters condescending to land on the deck just a few feet away.
And even more of a privilege when you see the way Chris (and the rest of the team) work with the Natural Alternatives crew to ensure they get to witness nature up close and personal on a daily basis.