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Houses for House Martins

As House Martins arrive in Britain and Ireland, following their long migration from south of the Sahara, one of their first jobs will be to find a house for the summer. Homeowners across the country can help House Martins by letting them build on their houses or by providing artificial nests.The first House Martins of the spring have already been recorded on the Migration Watch website http://www.bto.org/migwatch although most are expected to arrive during the next two weeks. The first House Martin of the year was recorded in East Riding of Yorkshire on the early date of 5 March.House Martins are messy birds; they carefully construct nests made from rolled up balls of mud (a real architectural feat!) but their droppings white-wash walls and garden paths and make them unpopular with some tidy homeowners. A tray on the patio under a nest makes clearing up easier! Following a journey of in excess 5000km (3000 miles) we should do all we can to help House Martins nest successfully.Providing a good source of mud is one of the easiest ways of helping House Martins. Regularly topping-up muddy puddles in periods of dry weather will ensure there is a ready source of mud for nest building. House Martins adapt readily to artificial nests, so by putting a nest under your eaves you may be able to provide a welcome home for a pair - and save a week of hard work.The House Martin still remains a great bird of mystery ? where do they winter and how do they roost? Although 290,000 House Martins have been ringed in Britain and Ireland, only one has been found south of the Sahara, in Nigeria. Unlike other aerial feeders, such as Swallow and Sand Martin, which roost in huge reed beds during the winter, where House Martins spend the night is unknown. It is believed that House Martins spend the night on the wing, flying high up in the sky during the hours of darkness, then drifting lower to feed during the day. The Focus on House Martin page on Migration Watch gives more information about House Martins http://www.bto.org/migwatch/text/species/houma.htm Who can help?
Anyone can get involved. Send in records of the first birds you see ? House Martins in your town or Swallows in your village. Take a regular walk and watch the seasons change, as first Chiffchaffs, then Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Cuckoo and Spotted Flycatcher add their voices to the summer chorus. Note when your first Swallow arrives, then keep records of when the nest is built, the eggs are laid, young start to be fed etc. And there is a huge amount of information to read too.Dawn Balmer, of the BTO, who organises Migration Watch is keen to recruit volunteers: Last year`s pilot of Migration Watch was really exciting, as we waited for the first birds to arrive. Three thousand birdwatchers sent in their records and we got a tantalising glimpse of how birds move into and through the country. With lots of new volunteers this year we hope to fill in some of the gaps in our coverage.Funding
Funding for Migration Watch has come from BTO members and supporters and from Northumbrian Water Limited. For further information on work being done by Northumbrian Water Limited on conservation and environment, visit http://www.nwl.co.uk/environment or telephone 0870 6084820.Like migrant birds, Northumbrian Water Limited has both a national and global dimension. The company`s support for Migration Watch celebrates links between its operational sites in Essex and Suffolk in the south and Northumbria in the north, as well as overseas. It has even been shown that Swallows ringed at one of its sewage works in Northumbria spend the winter in sites served by its South African sister company. It is a small world!For further information please contact:
Dawn Balmer 01842 750050, E-mail: dawn.balmer@bto.org during office hours or mobile 07968 600354 or Graham Appleton 01842 750050 or E-mail: graham.appleton@bto.org during office hours Or for information about Migration Watch in the Republic of Ireland contact:Oran O`Sullivan, BirdWatch Ireland, 8 Longford Place, Monkstone, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Tel: +353 12804322 E-mail: info@birdwatchireland.org

4th July 2014