On the wing: Signs of summer at the National Museum of Flight

With the recent spell of hot weather and a sprinkling of vivid new leaf growth across the trees on the southern perimeter, we can confidently announce that summer is on its way to the National Museum of Flight.

The first swallows have begun to arrive at the Museum. These intrepid little birds are completing their epic migration from South Africa. They swoop down to hunt the open spaces between the buildings and hangars, skimming just above the mown grass. Occasionally they dive down to dip a swift drink from the old emergency water supply. Bizarrely, this flooded inverted pyramid is now home to a colony of goldfish, whose distant ancestors were deposited there by base personnel during World War Two, or so the story goes.

Another tell-tale sign that summer is coming, are the nesting oystercatchers. These birds lay directly onto the weathered concrete, which provides near perfect camouflage for the mottled eggs. Oystercatchers are a protected species, and Museum staff fence off their nests to give the eggs the best possible chance to hatch. There are two pairs in residence and they tend to nest in exactly the same spot year after year.

Oystercatchers' eggs
Can you spot the oystercatcher’s eggs in this picture?

Above the neighbouring fields the skylarks have been flying, conspicuous by their singing as they hover unseen somewhere above. The territorial males can rise up to 300 metres on their song-flights. Although resident throughout the year, the beautiful warble of their song is a constant, almost subliminal, accompaniment to summertime.

Summer at the National Museum of Flight is marked by events which attract a different kind of visitor. We’ve just had the popular Wartime Experience and coming up in June is the fantastic Awesome Bricks weekend. Then we have Scotland’s National Airshow in July. You can find out more about the Museum and what’s on throughout the year at the National Museum of Flight here.

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