Record-breaking numbers of sand martin
The sand martins are back from Africa and this year they seem to be here in higher numbers than ever before!
With 88 occupied burrows already London Wetland Centre have the best year ever for sand martins on the reserve. These frequent summer visitors to the centre have travelled an astonishing 2,500 miles to get here from their wintering grounds in the Sahel in Africa and are now nesting in the artificial nest bank. Since its completion in 2003 we’ve seen a fluctuation in their numbers each year with records of as little as 20 pairs nesting back in 2015.
Fluctuations in sand martin breeding success can be caused by many different factors. It has been speculated it occurs due to a combination of loss of natural river banks and cliffs within the city, coupled with drought conditions and therefore food shortages in the Sahel. However, man-made burrows and artificial nesting banks such as the one at London Wetland Centre are providing essential habitats for these summer migrants.
‘We are very excited to see the continued increase in breeding that began again in 2016 after several years of reduced nesting,” said Adam Salmon, Reserve Manager. “Now 88 nesting chambers in our artificial bank are filled! Let’s hope that this positive trend carries on for years to come.”
The London centre remains an important site for breeding sand martin and is a key feeding site for several more species during their spring migration. If you want a chance to peer into the secret life of breeding sand martins then visit the sand martin nest bank this summer where you can get a ‘behind the scenes’ look via the CCTV camera installed in their nests.