Saturday, June 17, 2017

Martin Morning

2016 was a year without ringing at the Cockerham Sand Martin colony because the martins’ nest holes were too high up the quarry face for us to catch them. It’s the same this year with the birds mostly out of reach of the mist nets. But with so many being around Andy and I decided we’d experiment with catching some down at ground level today. 

We met up at 0700 and set to with a single mist net in the base of the quarry where the martins had been feeding and flying through on their way to and from the quarry face. We had only partial success with a catch of 9 birds, 4 adults and 5 fresh juveniles. 

We reckoned on something like 200 individuals milling around the colony and upwards of 60 occupied nest holes, even though counting those is subject to interpretation. 

Sand Martin

There are Sand Martins in my picture below taken from 50 yards or more; a closer approach sees the martins into the air en masse. For readers who have never witnessed a Sand Martin colony the photo which gives some idea of the density of holes and nests, bearing in mind that not every hole is occupied. 

Sand Martin colony

Sand Martins - Nabu of Germany

Also on site - 1 Grey Heron, 4 Oystercatcher, 1 Kestrel. 

We’ll have another go at the “smarties” in a week or so when the weather permits. 

Before I met up with Andy I’d spent an hour a mile away at Conder Green to catch up with recent changes. The Avocets are down to two pairs now and I saw only one youngster. It’s tempting to think that the adults spend so much time chasing off other birds that they somehow or other neglect their own young. 

There are still at least 4 pairs of Oystercatchers but only one of those pair with 2 well grown young as other adults sit it out. Otherwise, 8 now summering Black-tailed Godwits, 6 Tufted Duck, 15 Redshank, 6 Shelduck, 2 Common Tern, 1 Common Sandpiper and 1 Little Egret. 

Common Tern

In the passerine department - 3 Reed Warbler, 2 Reed Bunting 2 Whitethroat and 2 Pied Wagtail. And in “miscellaneous” – 1 Stock Dove, 4 Swift, 4 Swallow, 12 House Martin.

Linking today to Anni's Birding.


Gordon said...

Really interesting post about the Sand Martins, an amazing colony, its a pitty its not possible to net it properly,if it could be you might find some previously ringed birds.
All the best, Gordon.
PS. my Daughter took me down to Leighton moss today, Quiet.

Linda said...

Fascinating, Phil, about the Sand Martins. Here in the Montreal area we get Purple fact, there is a special birdhouse for them right by the waterfront!

David Gascoigne said...

My middle name is Martin. I thought perhaps you were blogging about me! And there are times in my life I have lived in a hole in the wall!
Right now I am monitoring an artificial structure for Sand Martins but so far it has been a total failure. It seems to me the location is wrong for a start, but I assume that someone with at least a passing knowledge of the species was involved in the decision to site it where it is. If we don't see some activity soon I think we can pretty well conclude that this year can be written off. Good luck with banding a few more, Phil.

Nora said...

Really lovely photos! I like all the photos of the little Sand Martins, we only get Purple Martins here. Have a great weekend. cheers

Patrycja P. said...

Sand Martins are really pretty swallows. Only once I've seen the colony of these birds, but it was very small. Greetings!

♥ Anni ♥ said...

Wow....incredible. I can actually visualize whet you saw in the mass of martina in the air. And the nesting area is awesome. What a super post Phil!!

Thanks so much for sharing this with us birders this weekend, at I'd Rather B Birdin'!!

David Gascoigne said...

May I take the liberty of pointing out to people (see comments above) that we do have Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) here in North American, we just choose to call them Bank Swallows. Why we should be out of step with the rest of the world I have no idea.

Sallie (FullTime-Life) said...

That was such an interesting post as was David's comment above ...I was going to say they looked so much like our cliff swallows . Wonderful to have the colony near enough to watch.

Stuart Price said...

There are a couple of colonies that I know about here where you wouldn't have to do any climbing...........

Anne (cornucopia) said...

Great photos.

Lowcarb team member said...

I love all your photo's Phil, and so fascinating about the Sand Martins, what an amazing colony.

All the best Jan

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