As most of the second brood of Hirundines are now out, the young on fine days congregate in considerable numbers on the church & tower: & it is remarkable that tho’ the generality is on the battlements & roof, yet many hang or cling for some time by their claws against the surface of the walls in a manner not practiced at any other time of their remaining with us. By far the greater number of these amusing birds are house-martins, not swallows, which congregate on trees. A writer in the Gent. Mag. supposes that the chilly mornings & evenings, at the decline of the year, begin to influence the feelings of the young broods; & that they cluster thus in the hot sunshine to prevent their blood from being benumbed, & themselves from being reduced to a state of untimely torpidity.
Gil. White left us. The flying ants of the small black sort are in great agitation on the zigzag, & are leaving their nests. This business used to be carryed on in August in a warm summer. While these emigrations take place, the Hirundines fare deliciously on the female ants full of eggs. Hop-picking becomes general; & all the kilns, or as they are called in some counties, oasts are in use. Hops dry brown, & are pretty much subject this year to vinny, or mould.
Went, & dined with my Brother Benjamin White at Mareland, to which he & his wife were come down for two or three days. We found the house roomy, & good, & abounding with conveniences: the out-door accommodations are also in great abundance, such as a larder, pantry, dairy, laundry, pigeon-house, & good stables. The view from the back front is elegant, commanding sloping meadows thro’ which runs the Wey (the stream from Alton to Farnham) meandering in beautiful curves, & shewing a rippling fall occasioned by a tumbling bay formed by Mr. Sainesbury, who also widened the current. The murmur of this water-fall is heard from the windows. Behind the house next the turnpike are three good ponds, & round the extensive outlet a variety of pleasant gravel walks. Across the meadows the view is bounded by the Holt: but up & down the valley the prospect is diversifyed, & engaging. In short Mareland is a very fine situation, & a very pleasing Gentleman’s seat. I was much amused with the number of Hirundines to be seen from the windows: for besides the several martins and swallows belonging to the house, many Swifts from Farnham range up & down the vale; & what struck me most were forty or firty bank-martins, from the heaths, & sand-hills below, which follow the stream up the meadows, & were the whole day long busied in catching the several sorts of Ephemerae which at this season swarm in the neighbourhood of the waters. The stream below the house abounds with trouts. Nine fine coach-horses were burnt in a stable at Alresford.