Tuesday, July 19, 2022

Cool, Calm and Collected

Visits to the Sand Martin colony must coincide with zero or gentle winds from the east or south east. Anything else is a no-no when a billowing mist net becomes visible to keen eyed Sand Martins able to pick out an insect from many yards away and then unerringly catch the insect in flight. Our visits must also be in the cool of early morning and before the sun travels west and makes a mist net visible. 

Our third visit of the season and a perfect forecast made us pencil in Tuesday. I met Andy at 0615 to a temperature of 20°, pretty normal for a real British summer rather than the wet and windy ones of recent years. 

Two earlier visits on 4 June and then 30 June saw 119 Sand Martins caught-103 adults and 16 juveniles of the year. We still await details of one of the adults caught on 4 June that bore “Paris Museum” 8911708. 

Before today
It’s never easy to come up with a Sand Martin count when so many are in the air, a good number feeding over the nearby water and others toing and froing at the nest tunnels where poking out heads add to the counting difficulties. Our best guesstimate was 180/200 individuals throughout two hours of watching while working at ringing. 

The count was probably fairly accurate with a catch of 65 Sand Martins being a healthy proportion of those around. The 65 comprised 37 juveniles of the year, 17 new adults and 11 adult recaptures, the eleven recaptures all from 2021 or 2022. 

Today’s figures, especially of juveniles, suggest that the Sand Martins here are having a pretty good year following a couple of poor years caused by wet summers, failed broods and the birds’ early departure for Africa. 

Sand Martin

Field Sheet 19 July
Sand Martin - juvenile/first summer
As an afterthought, here in the UK the two day heatwave green hysteria doom and gloom is out of control. It has become comical and ridiculous by confusing climate with patterns of meteorological conditions that have been with us for the last 15 billion years. 

In the 14th and 15th centuries ‘unnatural climatic phenomena’ were often blamed on ‘a great conspiracy of witches’. During the Little Ice Age in particular, when crops failed in many parts of Europe, there was a frenzy of witch-hunting. Some in society held witches directly responsible for the high frequency of climatic anomalies. 

This sounds all too familiar, like current attempts to pin the blame for weird weather of any sort on today’s witches - coal-mining, cows or motorists. 

Everyone needs to calm down and cool off. We’re safer from weather than we have ever been. It’s the ever increasing numbers of “experts” we should be afraid of. 

Other birds this morning comprised 1 Swallow, 4 Common Tern, 2 Grey Heron, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 Pied Wagtail 

I worked hard this morning doing real Citizen Science. Now it’s sunny and warm. I’m off to sit in the garden with an ice-cream and dream of holidays in Hot and Sunny Skiathos - nine weeks and counting. 

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday and Anni in Texas.


eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil,
It is nice that is is a good year for the Sand Martins. I only enjoy birding on a cool morning. I hope you are surviving the heat wave there. Take care, enjoy your day and the week ahead.

Hootin Anni said...

I hope you are sheltered from the heat tho. Yes, media/experts are much to blame, but extremes are not fun. Stay safe, and enjoy the birding/ringing when you can.

Wally Jones said...

It is heartening to hear the Sand Martins are having a good year! Your efforts to keep track of them are commendable. Especially in 20 degree weather. We hope you were wearing a substantial coat and hat with ear protection from the frigid temperatures.

Our own "climate emergency" (soon to be declared by the current occupant of the big white house) has seen our local temperatures climbing to extremes not seen since last July. And the July before that. And the July ... you know.

I'm old enough to remember when this sort of heat in July used to be called "summer".

"A great conspiracy of witches." As good an explanation as anything else I've heard. And, having seen likenesses of many of our current political representatives, perhaps not too far-fetched.

But I digress.

Sorry to have been absent. Happy to be back. We are very well indeed. Lots of exploring new and old places. (Do swamps have nooks and crannies?) Most of all, we are having fun. (Please! Do not tell the conspiracy of you-know-whats!)

Cheers from paradise.

Lydia C. Lee said...

Hopefully both you and the birds survive the heat. In the fires they were literally dropping from the skies. It was terrible. #SaturdayCritters

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil,
It is great the Sand Martins seem to be doing so well this year. Love the cute Sand Martin photo. It is hot out there, stay cool. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, enjoy your weekend.

Breathtaking said...

Hello Phil, :=) It's good news that it's been such a good year for the Sand Martins, and you had a good catch.

There is much more to learn about weather conditions in bird ringing than I had first imagined. The direction of the winds and the keen eye sight of the Sand Martins, for example have to be taken into consideration. You really do have to know so much about birds, and the perfect weather conditions to catch them. Lovely photo of the juvenile Sand Martin.
All the best.

Anni said...

Thanks for taking time to share your blog at I'd Rather B Birdin' this weekend (I was here a few days ago as my alias "hootin Anni)

NCSue said...

Thanks, Phil, for sharing at http://image-in-ing.blogspot.com/2022/07/satellite-park-at-duke-arts-annex.html

Lillian www.sognafaret.no said...

I was lucky some years ago. I helped with ringmarking birds at the lockal bird club.

Veronica Lee said...

So glad to hear the Sand Martins are having a good year.

Loving your photos as always, especially the cute Sand Martin.

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