My bird book tells me that it's easy to tell the difference between Swallows and House Martins. I beg to differ, when they're flying round at high speed I find it very difficult. So, I decided to try and take some pictures of the large number flying around near my house purely so I could identify them.
|An imperfect picture of a House Martin|
It turned out that what I thought were Swallows were House Martins, but it still took a while to scrutinise the mostly blurry photos. Swallows are famed for their long forked tails, but juveniles lack them, so I couldn't be sure from this alone. Also, to add to the confusion, looking at a US website I see the American 'Tree Swallow' looks pretty much identical to my own House Martin. The clearest aid to identification I can see from photos is that the Swallow's head is black all over, whereas it's just the top for the House Martin.
I tell this story as an excuse to post the photo below. It's not exactly an award winner, but I like it.
|A more arty imperfect picture of a House Martin|