House Guests

Tuesday, 6th September 2005, page 1 of 2

house martins'Have the house martins gone?' asks our neighbour, Jack, from across the road.

I look up into the clear blue sky: 'There don't seem to be any around but I saw some yesterday, or was it at the weekend.'

He's repainting his flat garage roof with metallic paint and he wants to knock down the old nests, under the barge boarding on the gable end of the house, first, so they don't fall on the paint.

house martin nestWhen he gets up the ladder he discovers there's one bird still in the nest. It's probably a fledgling: apparently the adults leave them for long periods in the nest at this time of year, to let them know that it's time to spread their wings and head for Africa for the winter.

The adults house martins are back by the evening.

Wasp at the Waterhole

wasps' nestI'm up a ladder too this afternoon, painting the boarding under the guttering. There's a mark right in the corner, in the most sheltered spot, where wasps, probably just one queen wasp, started building a paper nest. This was while we were away in the spring. A warm spell of weather suddenly turned cold and wet and this was probably why the abandoned the site. The nest, the size of a golf ball, fell down a few weeks ago.

wasp drinkingI notice a wasp drinking from the bird bath. It rests on the edge of a pebble and spends 30 seconds or more slaking its first. You can see its abdomen moving as it drinks. This must be a regular watering hole for them, I see one there later taking a drink.

No wonder the water level keeps going down.


Richard Bell,