Saturday, May 30, 2020

Martin Morning

Our Sand Martins (smarties) give us headaches every year. Last year all of their nests were high up the quarry face and out of reach for catching purposes. This proved even more frustrating when regular visits showed peak counts of 250-300 individual and 100 or more active nest holes. 

This year, and along with Swallows and House Martins, the Sand Martins arrived late. This year they chose a different part of the quarry face in which to nest and where the number of active tunnels seemed closer to 60 with the numbers of martins no greater than 130. 

But, this year’s face has a sheer rather than a sloping profile of loose grand and gravel, so on weighing up the possibilities, we considered it might be possible to catch a few.  Chris kindly offered to help out by way of placing some heavy anchorage on the quarry floor with which to secure a single mist net at both ends. 

Off we went for an early start when the sun would not light up a mist net. As it was, our net was many feet below the lowest tunnels but in the shade of the quarry face. We had a decent catch of 30 Sand Martins and 1 House Sparrow, the latter very unexpected. 

Sand Martin 

Sand Martin colony 

The martins divided as 20 adult males and 10 adult females. This told us that a good number of females were sat tight in the nest holes and that, as yet, there are no fledged youngsters. 

Field Sheet

Sand Martin

Other birds seen this morning – 18 Greylag Goose, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Great-spotted Woodpecker, 1 Mistle Thrush. 


Mistle Thrush

Linking today with Eileen's Saturday Blogspot and Anni's Blogging.


eileeninmd said...


it is great to see the Sand Martin colony, they are cute! I love the Oystercatcher and the pretty Mistle Thrush! Great photos. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Enjoy your day, wishing you a happy weekend!

Ella said...

It is so cute this bird, the Sand Martins!
These nests are in a sand wall in Kosovo? If not ... where then?
The Mistle Thrush is fun too! I know this bird because at the end of winter, it sings at the top of our poplar!
Have a great weekend!

italiafinlandia said...

Interesting post, as usual, and great shots.
Have anice weekend!

Ella said...

I am not from Kosovo! :)
I saw the birds while on vacation!

Anu said...

Hello. It is great to see that you have Sand martins. Of course we have Sand martins too, but here it is a critical endangered species.
Wonderful photos! Take care!

Lucy Corrander Now in Halifax! said...

What an extraordinary terrain that sand martin cliff is!

~Lavender Dreamer~ said...

The Mistle Thrush is a handsome bird indeed! I enjoyed reading your comments too and hear about it's song! Have a good weekend!

Adam Jones said...

What a fantastic colony you've got there. I only have 10-12 nests in my local river bank, and I thought that was a lot.

RedPat said...

That is an amazing number of Sand Martin nests!

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

Glad you were able to catch and count the Sand MArtins. Love the close up of same. I have now managed to take 6 of my bird groop out on 2 occasions last week adn we will have another 2 days this week. This makes my time even less for other things but it is a great jooy to be out with others now. Thanks for all your comments, stay safe and have a great week ahead.

Anni said...

That Mistle Thrush is dazzling! And your catch of 30 Martibs is a positive outcome...that cliff, my goodness - you didn't climb that I assume, since you say your net was below?
Taking time from your day to share this post is appreciated at I'd Rather B Birdin this week...thanks!

Mike Attwood said...

Hi Phil, Superb colony of sand martins, they would keep me busy. My local colony is in a working quarry which is heavily fenced off. Stay safe. Mike.

Jean said...

The sand martins are cute little birds. Glad you were able to catch a few without too much cliff scaling. The mistle thrush is a very neat looking bird. Hope you've had a wonderful weekend.

Stevenson Q said...

My dear friend Phil, you gave me a new bird to know and learn about, Sand Martins. They look super tiny and super cute. I would be afraid to touch it since I'm a very clumsy guy and he looks so delicate. That Mistle Thrush is also new to me and it reminds me of a Dalmatian in a bird form, lovely!

Have a great new week ahead my friend Phil! Hope you are safe and well there in Britain and sending you warmest greetings from our islands!

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Sand Martins are cute and interesting!

NCSue said...

I love all of these. I always enjoy seeing birds from across the pond. And the beautiful belly on the last one is charming.
Thanks for linking up at

Lowcarb team member said...

Nice to see the Sand Martin Colony, it looks a good number to me.
Always nice to see the birds you see, thank you for sharing your photographs.

Happy June to you.

All the best Jan

Veronica Lee said...

Sand Martins are adorable, Phil! Love the photos as always.

Wally Jones said...

Happy to hear you were able to conduct a mission such as this considering all factors currently impacting such planning.

Your results seem quite encouraging to me, but that's coming from a "non-ringer". I would be curious as to why the group arrived late this year and in what appears to be much smaller numbers.

Here's hoping we all are able to get out and about to observe the natural world as often as possible.

Gini and I hope the remainder of the week brings good things for you and your family!

Traveler In Me said...

The sand martin looks so pretty and their colony is something I am seeing for the first time. The oyster catcher is so striking in its looks!

Happy Birding!

Angie said...

Phil - this reminds me of the sand martin colony that is not far from here, along the Whitefish River. It might be time for another float to go see it! Enjoy the rest of your week!

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