English sand martins’ artificial nesting sites

This video from England says about itself:

Breeding Sand Martins use a sand bank on the River Aire, West Yorkshire.

From Wildlife Extra:

Sand martins’ ingenious concrete ‘burrow’

20/08/2010 19:29:57

Now British Waterways installs special tubes for birds to use

August 2010: British Waterways is creating a series of unique nesting sites this summer for an unusual visitor to the River Lee Navigation which has chosen to make these waterways its home.

Earlier this year local wildlife watchers alerted British Waterways to the fact that a pair of sand martins were setting up home by the canalised river. The sand martin is the only member of the martin family that doesn’t build a nest. Instead, it excavates holes in sand banks, creating small, busy colonies, which means they are more likely to be found in natural river areas where there are plenty of sandy banks to burrow into.

Ingenious pair are using disused drainage holes

However it seems the sand martins of Hackney are an ingenious pair and have been seen utilising the concrete holes along the wall of the River Lee Navigation as homes and hiding places.

British Waterways’ ecologist, Leela O’Dea said: ‘It is unusual to find sand martins using concrete walls as nesting sites, but it’s not totally unheard of. We have had sightings of the birds in the area and with them being so far away from any sandy or gravel structures it gives us a fairly good idea that the birds are adapting and using man-made structures, such as peg and disused drainage holes, in the waterway walls as homes.

‘They are probably also using the cracks and crevices caused by erosion and degradation of the walls. They are perfect for the birds as they are a great hiding place from predators, such as rats, which would eat their eggs and young birds.’

The sand martin is listed as an amber status species by the RSPB, and with that in mind British Waterways has designed a creative solution that will enable necessary works to the waterway wall without preventing sand martins using the area in the future as a potential nesting site.

‘Hopefuly other birds will also make them their own’

Leela O’Dea continues: ‘We need to undertake some structural works on the waterway wall. We are using this as an opportunity to make sure that the new wall retains some of the features that the sand martins seem to like on other sections of the river.

‘Hopefully this means that they will nest in the special tubes we are inserting into the new wall. The tubes offer a great home, high up and out of site of predators. Even if the sand martins don’t use them, I’m sure other birds such as blue tits, wrens, robins or even kingfishers will make them their own.’

3 thoughts on “English sand martins’ artificial nesting sites

  1. Pingback: Good British sand martin news | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  2. Pingback: Purple sandpipers, red knot, eider duck | Dear Kitty. Some blog

  3. Pingback: Sand martin flies from England to Senegal | Dear Kitty. Some blog

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