House Martin showing off its new wall, building on top of the remains of last year's nest.
Just as the village Swallows, Blackbirds, and many others birds are rearing second broods, my next door neighbour's house have a pair of House Martins attempting a little bit of summer nest- building under its eaves.
The nest site is an interesting one with history. It has been used occasionally before by House Martins and always surprises us with its late start in the breeding season. House Martins in Shadoxhurst have a small colony on one nearby road in the village (underneath the soffits of new-build houses), and this nest has always been on the periphery of the main site. In some years, Martins have started to nest-build, only to later abandon. House Martins are colonial birds even when nest building, typically collecting mud together (safety in numbers) for nest construction. It has certainly given my neighbours plenty to worry about as they would dearly love them to breed successfully again.
House Martins are quite capable of having two broods in one summer, and are seemingly in no particular rush to get back to Africa even as the long nights descend in October. I think what has been the catalyst for these birds to re-build a nest now, is the heavy rain we have received in the last few days. Perhaps the near drought we have had in Kent since early spring made it too difficult to collect the soft mud pellets for nest building. And, perhaps, by nesting later towards summer they might escape the attention of our village Sparrows who like to squat and take-on the 'house' as their own. Presently though, our Sparrows seem to have plenty of fledglings to keep themselves occupied with. So good luck to the House Martins - is this just going to be a practice run for a future nest in years ahead? Or perhaps a summer roosting site, or even better, a true summer breeding attempt?