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Hurray for the House Martins!

Hurray for the House Martins

A celebratory event in Wareham to raise awareness of the decline in House Martin numbers and what we can do to reverse this trend!

By Vicky Charles, Sustainable Wareham
House Martin numbers are in decline in Dorset
House Martins have suffered a drastic population decline in recent years.

Encouraging a colony of House Martins in Wareham

In February, a group of residents at the new Westgate Estate in Wareham came together with the help of Sustainable Wareham, and funding from the Coop Community Fund, to install artificial nest-cups for house martins on their homes. House martins, a close relative of swallows, build mud nest-cups attached high up on buildings. In recent years they have suffered a drastic population decline and are now on the red list of birds of conservation concern. By offering them secure, purpose-built artificial nests it is hoped the local colony in Wareham will continue to thrive and to bounce back from previous losses.

Hurray for House Martins

Sunday 7th July, 2 – 6pm at The Carey Hall

“Hurray for House Martins!” is a free celebratory event organised by Sustainable Wareham to raise awareness of the plight of these small aerial acrobats and engage others in the community to do all they can to help. As well as erecting artificial nest-cups, residents can grow their gardens for the flying insects and pollinators that the birds feed on; maintain wet areas around ponds as a source of wet mud for nest-building in dry conditions; and make changes to help combat climate change, one of the threats to these birds’ survival.

Artificial nest cup for House Martins

At the celebration on Sunday 7th July, 2 – 6pm at The Carey Hall in Mistover Road, Wareham, will be house martin expert and ecologist Paul Stevens. Paul, who is a key member of the House Martin Conservation UK & Ireland charity and creator of the artificial nest-cups used at Westgate, will tell us everything we need to know about house martins, their adventurous lives, the threats they face and how we can help them. There will be displays and information about our other summer visitors, the swallows and swifts, also in decline, and what we can all do to help them. Visitors will also be able to watch the short film about the Westgate project created by talented local film-maker Sue Western and speak to the newly created Wareham Swifts Swallows and House Martins group.

All are invited to come along, whether to stay and attend the talk or to pop in for information. The event is free so put the date in your diary for 7th July and keep your eyes on the skies as our summer visitors return from Africa to nest and raise their young. Their aerial antics and chattering calls represent the summer months here in the UK – let’s not wait until they’re gone before we act.

Break out boxes?

Swifts are the fastest bird on Earth in level flight, entering their tiny nest holes at 40mph! They migrate over huge distances, travelling to the UK from southern Africa to breed and raise their young. They only land to breed and nest, spending the rest of their lives in the air where they feed, drink, mate and even sleep! They feed only on flying insects, collecting them in a huge ‘bolus’ in their throat to feed to their young. Their screaming cries as they fly around our roof tops at dusk are the sounds of summer.

Swallows prefer to nest inside our buildings, often entering through a tiny hole to build a mud nest on beams in barns, garages and out-buildings. They are identified by the long, forked or ‘swallow’ tail and can sometimes be seen resting on overhead wires, especially when gathering for their autumn migration to Africa.

House martins, close relatives of swallows, are the smallest of the three building-reliant birds, with a blue-black back and pure white underside. They even have white feathers on their feet. They build a more enclosed mud nest cup with a small entrance, attached high up under the eaves of our buildings. Hearing the youngsters chattering in the nest above a bedroom window on a summer morning is one of the most uplifting experiences.

Swallows have a long forked tail
Spot a Swallow by its long forked tail
Swifts - the fastest bird on Earth!

Sustainable Wareham mailing list

To make sure you don’t miss out on our Wareham-focussed wildlife events join the Sustainable Wareham mailing list by emailing info@sustainablewareham.org

Read more about Sustainable Wareham on the Love It Local Community Page section

September 2024
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