Wednesday, 20 July 2011
Birds on a wire
The above photo`s were Digiscoped on my recent visit to Rutland Water and is a small sign that the Sand Martin colony there has had a fairly successful breeding season. The birds in the pictures are pretty much all juveniles and could be from different colonies from the surrounding area as these birds tend to gather in these mixed groups before making their long trip to Africa in August.
This bird is one of our earliest migrants, with birds arriving in March. They are smaller than a Swallow and slimmer than a House Martin, with brown upperparts and white underparts with a distinct brown band across the breast (a feature that helps tell it apart from the similar House Martin when the colours cannot be seen well). They breed in colonies and depend on vertical sandy banks for nesting. These sites tend to be close to rivers and sand/gravel quarries. They happily use man-made nest sites in areas where their natural choice is limited and perhaps this has enabled their population to stabilise after a massive crash in 1984. The population in the U.K. is estimated to be in the region of 250,000 pairs, although the bird is found throughout most of Europe, Asia and North America.