5 Apr 2007

The First of the Migrants have arrived. Sand Martin

116. Little Gull
117. Canada Goose
118. White Fronted Goose
119. Sand Martin

Peregrine's Birding Facts The Great Tit lays 8-13 eggs, each of which is about 10% of her weight.

This evening I saw the first of the new year's migrants. A Sand Martin( Riparia Riparia) was flying over the Quoile in front of Castle Island Hide.

Sand martins are the smallest European hirundines (martins and swallows), with dark brown upper parts and dark under wings contrasting with otherwise pale under parts divided by a distinctive dark chest bar. Agile fliers, feeding mainly over water, they will perch on overhead wires or branches. They are gregarious in the breeding season and winter. Over the past 50 years the European population has crashed on two occasions as a result of drought in the birds' African wintering grounds.Both males and females make a horizontal tunnel 45-90 cm long with a chamber at the end. Suitable sites may be used for years. New tunnels will be dug as the cliff collapses, or as old holes become too big (when they may be taken over by sparrows or starlings).

The white eggs, usually four or five, sometimes three to seven, are generally laid in late May or early June in a nest of feathers, grass and leaves. Incubation is by both parents once the last egg is laid, and lasts for about 14 days. All eggs hatch at the same time. The young are helpless and remain in the nest. They are bed by both parents and fledge when 19-24 days old. After fledging, they are dependent on the parents for about one week. Usually two broods are raised each summer.

The birds depart British Isles from late July to September. Most are thought to winter in the Sahel, the zone south of Sahara, where they feed in damp places that offer plentiful supplies of flying insects.

Eggs: 4-5
Incubation: 14-15 days
Fledging: 22 days
Maximum lifespan: 9 years
Length: 12cm
Wingspan: 26-29cm
Weight: 11-14g
UK breeding: 160,000 pairs

My favourite walking area Killard has a sandy bank where they nest each year and it is my intention to get some decent
photos of them this year.

Also in front of the hide was a Little Gull Which was picking insects off the water and the next moment catching flies up in the sky it was all over the place. They are a very pretty gull.

There are some birders who I am always am impressed with. A few days ago I was in the Castle Island Hide and Walter Veale was there and he had seen a flock of feral Greylag Geese on a hill some distance off. Nothing surprising about that but then he says there is one that looks slightly smaller and darker and within a minute they had flown down to the pondage and there was a White Fronted Goose amongst them. Now I am sure my untrained eye would not have picked it out unless it had been a couple of hundred yards away rather than three quarters of a mile.

1 comment:

Marie said...

Just to say hi from a Dunfanaghy person- Glad to see you enjoyed our scenery.