Oxwich Marsh 18 August 2014: roosting swallows

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Despite blustery conditions all day, the wind was forecast to die down in the evening.  We had been waiting for an opportunity for some time to try and catch some (barn) swallows at Oxwich, as it was clear that birds were roosting in the reedbed.  This seemed as good a chance as we had had in recent weeks.

We had the nets up by around 19:45.  Swallows were immediately noted in the area, along with good numbers of house martins.  The first birds were captured by 20:20, and by 20:40 we had passed 20 individuals.  The main catch was just after dusk however.

There were also some bonuses: large numbers of starling roost in the reedbed, and two birds flew into the nets; there were also single house martin and sand martin captured.

The catch was as follows:

Species Total
Sand Martin 1
Swallow 128
House Martin 1
Starling 2
Total: 132

An excellent return for the effort.

The birds were kept overnight in purpose-built roost boxes.  These allow them to huddle together for warmth (releasing them in the dark could result in disorientation).  They were released at dawn, and immediately formed a flock.

Thanks to Cedwyn Davies, Heather Coates and Keith Vaughton for company this evening.

Owain Gabb

Juvenile swallow

Juvenile house martin (you can just see the broad white tips to the tertials used in ageing this species)

Head on view of the house martin
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