In 2002, the Sand Martins arrived in mid-April and nested in the sandy face of the local soil cliffs. They are in some ways the most spectacular fliers in our area, and will sometimes hurtle along at ankle level and seem to take no notice of human presence other than adjusting their flightpath to avoid collision.
In spite of coming so close, they move far too fast to be tracked at close range, so the flying shots were obtained by pointing the camera at the cliff edge, holding the button down and hoping!
The last of the Sand Martins departed in late August, and we eagerly awaited their return in 2003. Sadly, the nestholes in our stretch of cliff remained unused, but a small colony did establish itself a little further along.
Walking along the cliff one day, we were lucky enough to see a group of birds perched on a wire fence. As I took the pictures, some of them flew away, leaving the hopeful looking trio in the lower picture (which will enlarge). Judging by the colouring, I think these three may be juveniles.
Photographs - August 2003
In 2004 we were delighted to see the Sand Martins back again inspecting the nestholes on our local cliff. They disappeared for a week or two then all of a sudden were back again - or was it another group altogether?
Photographs (above and left) - April 2004
These pictures will enlarge.
In 2005 the Sand Martins returned to find that their nestholes had been damaged by a cliff fall over the Winter and we saw no more of them along our stretch of the cliff. However, we were delighted to find an active colony just around the next bend and, as you can see here, the nestholes were still busy into late August.
Photograph (right) - August 2005
It was another few years before the Sand Martins re-colonised 'our' bit of cliff. At first there were only a handful of active holes but by 2011 the colony was booming again, although the holes pictured here are in a section of the cliff that has already slipped halfway down the cliff face and may well not survive the winter. There are though some holes higher up so hopefully there will be enough available next year for them to stay on.
Photograph (left) - July 2011
One year on, and the Sandmartins did indeed return to re-use the 2011 holes. In fact the colony has grown and a few more holes have been added, making this particular section very much a high density housing area.