1 Eagleton Notes: House Martins

Monday, 17 June 2013

House Martins

According to the most authoritative book available on birds in the Western Isles House Martins do not seem to have nested in the Western Isles since an apparently unsuccessful attempt at breeding in 1974.  

Imagine my surprise, therefore, when quite a few House Martins reconoitered the front wall of my house a few days ago with an obvious view to finding a nest site.  After a few days of flying to and from exactly the same point on the wall they lost interest and returned to their habitat down towards the sea.  One major problem for House Martins trying to nest on Lewis is the lack of mud.  There is almost no clay on the Island and, as far as I am aware none at all near me.

The photos are taken through double glazing in less than perfect photographic lighting conditions.






17 comments:

  1. I didn't know that martins were such a beautiful bird! I've never seen one. thanks!

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    1. They are very fast flyers Norma and it's hard to catch them when they are still. I'm fortunate in having them fairly close and having a long focus lens.

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  2. Poor little birds -- youve got to admire their perseverence. xoxo

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    1. Yes Carol. I feel quite sorry for them because they are out of their natural comfort zone.

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  3. What cute little birds....and nice photos too.
    It may be a good thing that there was no mud nearby, if not you may have been invaded. I can imagine the entire "gang" showing up to live at the house with the pretty garden and the fish pond.

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    1. They don't do any harm Virginia. The Sparrows live under my eaves by the dozen and some House Martins would have been more than welcome. In fact I shall try and encourage them next year.

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  4. I think Richard says that you can tell Martins by their forked tails...you must understand that in Georgia, the sun is so bright that it is hard to make out what birds are flying over your head!
    And if you need any clay, I have some good red Georgia clay I could send to you!
    (You would not believe it, I went to a wedding on Saturday and there were martins that flew under the verandah of the Country Club and flew all about during the ceremony. It was quite beautiful really and very unexpected!)

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    1. Yes Kay the Martins have a short forked tail and the Swallows have a long forked tail. Swifts also have forked tails but are all black and apart from nesting they never land. I'm very used to Swallows coming close in New Zealand but this is my first really close encounter with Martins.

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    2. PS Kay. Good to see you as a follower. Thanks.

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  5. Would they move into a man-made nest, Graham? Or do they absolutely insist on building their own?

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    1. I don't know the answer to that Meike. Unlike many birds who will build a nest within a nest box they actually make their own 'nest box' out of clay and line it. If I tried to fabricate a replica (not an easy task) I'm not sure what they would do.

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  6. Well done getting the photos.Earlier in the spring I was amused watching a couple of magpies trying - but failing - to build a nest in a tree I see from my kitchen window. I in turn failed to get any good pictures. They would pick a stick from the ground, fly up and place it where the wanted it. The stick invariably fell back down onto the ground. They picked it up again and so on. They gave up after a while but kept coming back a few days in a row, until they gave the spot up for good. Either they found a better tree or there was a magpie divorce...

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    1. I had a great deal of luck Monica. Why do we love small birds and not, usually, Corvidae? I'd be delighted that the Magpies had failed to make a nest. There';s not much logic involved.

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    2. I have to admit I was rather relieved that they didn't manage to build a nest in that tree as I know from experience how noisy their "babies" are... ;) At my previous flat there was a magpie nest in a tree just outside my bedroom window...

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  7. GB, surely you could have made them a little bowl of mud? Was that too much to ask?

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    1. I tried various concoctions Frances but as there is no clay it's not easy. In any case as far as I could see they completely ignored my attempts.

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  8. You'll have to import a big sack or two of clay. Or maybe be use your pottery skills to make them a couple of nests.

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