Things in nature are not always sweetness and light, a casual glance at nesting sand martins reveals only a snapshot on their lives.
However, spend some hours/days watching these avian troglodytes and you get the full story and in this case a sad story. All was going well, incubation was clearly over and each day was now spent in frantic chick feeding.
A couple of weeks later the chicks were being fed at the nest entrance and looking up at that clear blue sky and ready to go go go.
All but one. I noticed that one of the chicks had an eye problem, its eyelids were closed and it was only able to detect an incoming parent with food by the frantic movements of its siblings and no doubt the darkening of its surroundings whereupon it would open its bill and be fed.
When its brothers and sisters flew what was it going to do, would it fly too, would it risk taking to the air blindly, was the instinct to feel the wind under its wings that strong or would it stay put?
Well here is the answer. One morning I arrived to find the chick on the ground below; dead. That plucky little chick did reach for the sky, I don't know how far it flew but somehow, no doubt realising all was not as it should be it seems it still knew the direction of the nest hole, probably from the direction of the sun and it must have tried to return home.
It was only a few yards from the base of its sand bank home, it was even lying in the right direction but maybe the cold during the night ended its misery. You may think I placed the chick here but I promise you this is how I found it.
I must admit I did feel very sorry for that little chap, so much life ahead for it, so much travel to Africa and back each year but no, not for this one That is the way of nature and the closer you watch the more you learn. A casual glance teaches us very little.