Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Sand Martin.

Red Squirrel. Brian Rafferty.

But first lets start with another of those excellent images BR keeps producing, he shows a set of five on his website which he traveled to Widdale in N. York's to see and photograph. Please take a look for yourself at his short account of the encounter with this delightful creature HERE

On Monday 12 July I found at least seventy Sand Martins loafing around and resting on a fence line which runs out to the estuary at Cockersands. At the time I was a little surprised at the sighting until I realised this was around the time autumn migration begins to show with birds on the coast as in this case. The Sand Martin - as with many bird species - has much to be said about it but there follows just a few brief general and interesting notes.... 

Sand Martins populations are subject to periodic increases and declines mainly attributed to the levels of rainfall in their wintering areas. In our area in Lancashire 2010 has been a successful one with good colonies, good numbers, and a good 'ringing' season with the figure of 1,798 captures being recorded at two large colonies on the River Lune with no end of season figures published yet. The River Lune is by far the most important breeding site for the Sand Martin and is an area which has been monitored since the late 1970's. In the Arkholme area - even though it is afflicted by periodic flooding- in 1996 it held almost half the entire Lune total with 1,200 nests, this being a colony which declined to less than 750 pairs the year before in 1995.

Going back to my sighting at Cockersands and related events there are some truly amazing peak counts to be encountered at some locations in August including Leighton Moss where they can reach up to 5,000 birds as in 1973, but a roost - exceptional in late date and number - was of the one of 15,000 on 12 September 1989, and on the late date issue three birds at Scarisbrick Hall near Southport on 29 October 1972 is the latest date ever recorded in Lancashire. And on the subject of early/late records the one which remains the earliest ever is of a bird in Blackpool on 5 March in 1918. 

On the ringing issue there are some interesting recoveries of birds ringed in Lancashire including single figure numbers in France, Spain, and Senegal, with singles in Malta and Norway. Of the birds recovered in Senegal two had been ringed in Churchtown, Fylde and were controlled in Djoudj National Park, another two were ringed at Caton, Lancashire and were also recovered in Djoudj. There have also been recoveries on the River Lune including a bird from Belgium, two from France, and a 1st winter bird ringed in Djoudj in February 1993 was controlled five months later at Caton on 11 July.

When the twilight is gone and the songbird stops singing....

As I reached the last line of this post for some strange reason the line of this old song I used to like ran through my mind, but the song/singer I would have to research to put any names to....there's no explaining some things is there!            


Phil said...


Pete Woodruff said...

Excellent Phil, and I got it wrong as the words are actually 'and no songbirds are singing' not 'and the songbirds stop singing' Roy Orbison....great stuff!

Anonymous said...

Pete the info. source for more detail on this years Sand Martins to date

Very synchronised and successful first brood in the fine weather with many early departures following early fledging in the first week of June (even at the 'upland' Crossdale Beck colony which I am monitoring) see e.g. Portland Bird Observatory site for late June/early July

However, the latest birds did not do well with many drowned in the nest during last week's monsoon e.g. at Burrow colony plus a few killed by bank collapses

More detail from Richard at the end of the season as you say

In the meantime, thanks for giving this species and the local survey work some good publicity and if anyone is interested in helping next year, please contact Richard (see NLRG site again)

Pete Marsh