Tuesday 15 June 1915, New Romney


This afternoon I had an opportunity of visiting the reed warbler’s nest found on June 2nd. Two of the five eggs had just hatched. This gives the period of incubation at 11 or 12 days according as to whether the bird commenced to sit on four or three eggs. I do not think she was likely to do so before the third was laid.


Along the Littlestone front the partiality shown by the martins for the inhabited houses is very marked; the birds have almost without exception chosen to site their nests against the occupied houses, leaving the others severely alone. As more than half the buildings are now empty this cannot be due to accident. I am glad to say there is a fairly flourishing colony of house martins at Littlestone though there are very few to be seen about the more inland villages. The pertinent question to ask oneself is – why have the birds selected such a bleak spot in preference to any others? My answer is sparrows. Sparrows, it is true, are to be found at Littlestone, but hardly in such aggressive numbers as in the more homely villages where they have, of course, the detestable habit of appropriating the martins’ nests as soon as they are completed.


Most first broods of meadow pipits have been on the wing some days, but a few still have young in the nest, These are thinly clothed with loose, dingy, greyish down. The soft mass is, of course, absolutely contour-less and, when immobile, the nest full of young birds looks like a splotch of shadow, It is therefore important for the meadow pipit to place its nest in some recess. On the other hand, the streaky, coarse and straw-coloured down of young skylarks looks so like the broken lights and shades of withered grass that they can afford to be under the open sky.



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