Latest on Sand Martin Bank installed along the River Don

There are some interesting updates regarding the artificial Sand Martin bank situated on the River Don at Kelham Island and monitored by the Sorby Breck Bird Ringing Group. This year, has been the first the bank has been occupied by Sand Martins, however the group’s findings have been a little peculiar.

Harriet Day, a licensed bird ringer with the Sorby Breck Bird Ringing group and project lead tells us:

We have discovered that Sand Martins are very unpredictable! Sadly a first attempt resulted in a failed nest. Our findings on Week 1 showed we had one chick, just a few days old. Week 2 showed we had no chick but four warm eggs and Week 3 showed one cold, unfertilised egg. Unfortunately, this can sometimes happen in nature, and we can only assume this pair could be first time breeders, raising young for the first time and perhaps their lack of experience may have caused this to happen. Although predation was considered, it was not evidently proven.

Nevertheless, Harriet is delighted to report that Sand Martins at Carbrook, another River Don site where artificial banking was provided, have been successful this year! The bank is occupied with 6 nests resulting in 15 young birds being ringed by the group.

Looking back to 14 June 2020 at the Carbrook bank site, one Sand Martin chick was rung here in its nest. This is done by placing a light weight ring on the bird's leg to help monitor the species population. Almost a month later by 12 July, the Sand Martin was recovered in Burnside, Hertfordshire by another bird ringer. Weighing a healthy 11.3 grams and having the wing length of 103mm, it was incredible news. The duration was 28 days and he had flown 201km still as a juvenile!

This provides the group with valuable information and the understanding that once the young have fledged, they stock up on food and head South. Artificial Sand Martin banks, are providing nests for offspring which in turn, allow us to study these fascinating, migratory birds.

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