Followers of the most beautiful birds meme will know I'm a big fan of house martins. The groups of these blue-black and white beauties who nested amidst the sandstone sculptures of my college made sure of that. This post is about a different hirundine though; the sand martin. These little chaps declined a bit in the seventies due to loss of nesting habitat with the result that a number of wetland reserves set up artificial banks for them to nest in. This one is at London Wetland Centre.
As you can see it was an instant hit with the martins who now return every year to raise their young on the flying insects emerging from the ponds and marshes.
The reality for sand martins, house martins and swallows though is more ominous. These birds are global travellers and they illustrate the need to think globally about the environment. These birds may and indeed have declined in the numbers returning for reasons as diverse as the use of ddt in their wintering areas or droughts in africa. We can't expect these little miracles to return year after year because everything is right in our garden whilst paying companies who damage their wintering ground.