I haven’t been out much recently but yesterday morning I had a walk around my local patch of Stanwick Lakes and the star bird was the Sand Martin – there were hundreds of them!
Sand Martin – in flight meal. Photo: Tim Melling
In fact, a local birder who gets out earlier than I, said he reckoned there had been 1000 a little earlier. There were still hundreds and hundreds of these small brown and white hirundines that will have spent our winter in places such as Senegal in West Africa.
They have made the tough journey back to the UK and were at my local patch in their hundreds on a cold April morning with a northeasterly wind. But there were lots of insects in the air, and the Sand Martins were feeding on them, as were just a few Swallows too, in the more sheltered lee of any trees.
Migration is an awe-inspiring phenomenon – the distances these small birds have covered since I last saw them over the lakes in August/September are simply amazing. If only they could talk and tell us of their travels.
But if they could talk then they might have a word or two for we humans. You may have noticed that there has been a bit of a hoo-ha over the netting off of a Sand Martin colony in North Norfolk – see here, here, here. Indeed, Martin Harper, the RSPB Conservation Director, is going to have a look for himself today: Martin and the martins, no less.
Norfolk Council do have a point – they haven’t behaved completely awfully – see here – but the case of the migrants prevented from making their homes here has touched the nation’s heart.
By the time I went back for a walk at Stanwick Lakes this morning the e-petition calling for protection for bird nesting sites as well as nests had acquired over 53,000 signatures.