Thursday, 23 August 2012

Swallow Ringing, Titchfield Haven - 23rd August 2012

I had a night off from bat surveying tonight so as the weather was good a few of us decided to try and catch some Barn Swallows at Titchfield Haven. We have been watching the birds over the last couple of weeks, and the usual roost had not seem to have arrived yet, but still we thought we would give it a go. The session started well with a flock of around 10 Yellow Wagtails flying just over the net, but unfortunately not returning, and then the swallows arrived. Only one to start with, but it was a start, but soon we were up to a mixed flock of around 40 Barn Swallows and 10 Sand Martins.

The birds were flying low over the reeds, and did not appear to notice our nets, and before we knew it we had captured 29 birds. Our total included 23 Barn Swallows, 22 new birds and one control, and six Sand Martins.

Juvenile Barn Swallow

Our total was a mix of adults and juvenile birds, with six adult and 17 juvenile swallows and one adult and five juvenile Sand Martins. In the autumn adult Barn swallows still have a deep red face and throat and long tail streamers, whereas juveniles have short, and blunt tail streamers and a reddish buff face and throat, as shown in the pictures above and below.

Juvenile Barn Swallow

Adult sand Martins have a very well marked breast band and lack any buff tips to the upperparts....

Adult Sand Martin

                 .......whereas the upperparts of juveniles are heavily fringed with pale whitish or buff tips to the tertials and the upper wing coverts.

Juvenile Sand Martin

As with several other bird species this year, the number of bird present was lower than the same time last year, but hopefully some birds are still nesting and the bigger flocks will follow.

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