We are pleased to be able to say that our first Sand Martins have returned to the Lower Derwent Valley NNR after their long spring migration. Wintering largely in the Sahel area of Africa, Sand Martins are one of the first summer migrants to appear from mid-March, and are highly gregarious, breeding in colonies where they excavate tunnels in sandy banks. Sadly, natural nesting colonies in riverbanks are prone to summer flooding, however, with thanks to your support via log sales, cards and calendar purchases, and kind donations, the Friends of the Lower Derwent Valley have installed several Sand Martin nesting ‘hotels’ on the reserve over the last few years.
These, like the one at Bank Island pictured below (images from a previous year), will provide additional nesting locations and will also be less prone to be flooded out and safe from predators. Over the last couple of years this ‘hotel’ has proved popular with returning adults, and has resulted in over 140 chicks successfully fledging. We’ll be filling them with sand this week with the hope that this year’s cohort will soon move in, and then we'll turn our attentions to repairing the bank at Wheldrake Ings which became damaged during the winter floods.