Flight Styles

Wild West Yorkshire nature diary, Monday 31st May 1999

common tern A TERN flies above the canal, its light, elegant mode of flight makes a passing Black-headed Gull look cumbersome.

briar rose Sweet Briar, a fragrant rose by the towpath, has large, deep magenta blooms. Spindle, which I guess is planted here by the canal, is coming into blossom.

lame crow As we come to Lady Ann bridge I see a crow I recognise, it's the lame one that I've seen several times beachcombing on a silty island in the river a mile downstream.
house martins It is a cool evening but, because I have spent several hours assembling garden furniture, we eat outside. The dome of the sky, grey as it is, beats any artexed ceiling. We sit wearing our fleeces, drinking our wine and watching the local colony of House Martins circle above us. They somehow remind me of fish, flying fish perhaps. They move around in a loose shoal. Their movements show that they are treating the air as a liquid. For them the air provides the same sort of buoyancy that we might experience in a swimming pool.

Every now and then one of the martins pulls in its wings, almost closing them, for half a second or so, but continues hurtling along through the air. It reminds me of an adolescent on a bicycle; 'Hey, look, no hands!'

Richard Bell,
wildlife illustrator

E-mail; 'richard@daelnet.co.uk'

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