Among The Sand Martins of the River Ouse

Among The Sand Martins of the River Ouse

Summer walks along the River Ouse, Yorkshire, I love them. Showing once more you do not need to travel to get amazing sights and experiences. This particular stretch of the River Ouse at Rawcliffe Park, York is perfect for dog walks, and as you can see perfect for getting close to nature, such as the abundant Sand Martins!

sand martins in flight

People often think of the Swallows arriving being a sign of Spring, but their smaller cousins, the Sand Martins tend to arrive first. All the swallows and martins come from the same group of birds more technically known as hirundines. Sand Martins can be found by Rivers all over the UK and hard to miss when you see them, flying around in huge flocks of maybe 200 or so, over the water, making their nests in the river banks. If you see lots of holes (burrows) together in and along the side of sandy river banks, I can bet the sand martins have made their homes there.

sand martins and yorkshire river

Molly gets as captivated by them swooping around as I do. So whilst she bounded into the river splashing after them hopelessly I set up the GoPro to see if I could get some images of the birds in action.

And it worked… In they came by the load seemingly to get a good look at the camera. Sand Martins are known to get very gregarious in their group, not as elegant as swallows to be honest but a spectacle to behold. On a sunny day by the river it is fascinating to watch them coming and going, catching insects and coming back and forth to their sandy tunnels.

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a flock of sand martins flying

They are busy on our riverbanks breeding, the frenzy is to raise their chicks that are safe within the holes on the river bank. Those tunnels range from half a metre to a metre in depth to keep the little ones safe. Normally laying approximately 5 eggs, incubating for 2 weeks until hatching, raising chicks for another 3 weeks then the youngsters are off. This can be repeated a second time in the season for a pair of Sand Martins.

dog walking with the birds

At the end of August and early September they will leave our shores heading over to Africa, south of the Sahara where warmth and water is abundant creating a haven for feasting on insects. In the meantime I will enjoy the rest of the time they are in UK, joining me on parts of my dog walks then look forward to them showing me the next Spring is coming.

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