I met up with Andy this morning for our third ringing session of the season at the Cockerham quarry where there is a colony of Sand Martins. We were joined today by Kim, the latest recruit to the ringing group.
After catching more than 160 Sand Martins on the first two visits of 2015 we perhaps didn’t expect a huge catch today but were more than satisfied with 34 birds - 31 Sand Martin, 2 Linnet and 1 House Martin. The catch of Sand Martins comprised of 12 new ones, 18 recaptures and 1 previously ringed elsewhere, most likely at a Sand Martin colony near Whittington in the Lune valley some 25 miles north of Cockerham.
Of today’s 31 Sand Martins just 3 proved to be juveniles with 28 adults - 20 females and 8 males.
Sand Martin - juvenile
A flock of 30+ Linnets were around the rough grass areas at the foot of the quarry and two found a net that was placed to catch Sand Martins. Another bycatch proved to be a juvenile House Martin which had joined in the feeding flock of Sand Martins.
Our once abundant Linnet is now quite scarce in this part of Lancashire. The days of catching dozens are long gone as small flocks become the norm and to see just one or two in the hand becomes something of an occasion.
Linnet - juvenile
Birding was quiet apart from the aforementioned Linnets plus 2 Pied Wagtails and several Tree Sparrows. Two Whimbrel flew west about 0900 hours.
From a different quarry today came the exciting news that two pairs of European Bee Eaters are breeding at Lower Gelt, near Brampton, Cumbria some 80 miles to the north and east of our Cockerham quarry. The RSPB - “Up to six adult Bee Eaters - two breeding pairs and two 'helpers' have been present on site since mid-June. The young are believed to have hatched and with the actions of egg collectors now not a problem, news has been released.”
I wonder if those Bee Eaters passed over Cockerham on their way north in spring and maybe gave a thought to setting up home in Lancashire instead? I’m certain that they would have been looked after although our Sand Martin ringing would have been curtailed in the light of a Schedule 1 species breeding amongst the Sand Martins.
We can but dream.