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Tuesday, 8 June 2021

Sand Martins (Bank Swallows) and Lily

     Franc and Carol have purchased a large RV and needed a place to store it while they are not travelling the highways and byways. And there is a whole interesting sidebar to the place they chose.
     Almost as soon as they entered they saw Sand Martins (Riparia riparia) flying around (this species is known as Bank Swallow in North America). One does not encounter Sand Martins frequently these days. It is a species at risk, its population continent-wide having declined a staggering 98% over the past forty years.
     They knew that I would be interested in seeing this colony, in addition to a group of Barn Swallows nesting in one of the buildings, and kindly invited me to go there with them.


     Let me add right away that the photographs in this section are Franc's. Anyone who has ever tried to capture a swallow in flight knows the challenges involved, and the images are quite remarkable.
     The colony appears to be of a decent size with nest tunnels excavated in different sections of a suitable cutaway bank.


     The swallows enter and exit the holes at such speed it is impossible to get a picture unless they pause briefly at the entrance.


     Franc has vowed to return with a tripod, a seat, more time and a surplus of patience to see if he can do better!
     What was of greatest interest, however, was not the natural bankside nest site. Large concrete blocks have been used as a retaining wall, and there is a hole in the centre of each block, used to lift them if I am not mistaken.


     The swallows have readily adapted to this nesting habitat and were observed constantly flying in and out of the holes. There is apparently sufficient space for nest construction inside the block and room for the bird to turn around to go back to foraging.
     The blocks, lined up one after the other must in some way resemble a natural site.


     Maybe we can talk the owner into installing a second layer!


     The current regulations in regard to COVID permit groups of five people from different households to get together outdoors, so we were finally, after several weeks, able to resume our walks with Heather and Lily. It is hard to believe but on 20 June, a mere twelve days from now Lily will be a year old.
     
Mommy slathering on sunscreen.

I will have to decide whether I like that or not.

I already tossed one shoe on the ground. Here comes the next!

Gotta let everyone know who's in charge here!

Time to say goodbye. See you next Friday.

     Heather and Lily wish everyone a happy summer. See you again soon.

65 comments:

  1. The sand Martin's and their nests are incredible! And Lily has got so big! Love her grumpy face! Have a wonderful day, hugs, Valerie

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  2. Lily, lily, lily...how much she has grown! Love all her expressions, especially the pout. Very interesting about the sand martins, and how they have adapted to the concrete wall openings.

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  3. Lovely photos of Heather and Lily, David - it was great that you can see them again and resume your walks.
    We have also these swallows here - in a 35 meter high slope.

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  4. Lily is very cute! She has grown a lot since last time, David. I hope you will show more photos of her in the future.

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  5. The girl also began to communicate through facial expressions.

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  6. Hari OM
    Oh how good to meet up with Lily and mum once again - and thanks to Franc for those gorgeous images of flight... YAM xx

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  7. Lily is a wonderful and big child.
    Hugs and greetings to Heather and Lily.
    Of course! Greetings to Miriam and you David.

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  8. Lily sure is growing up fast. Hard to believe it's been almost year already.

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  9. How great to be able to see and enjoy those Sand Martins - Franc's photos are excellent.
    Lily has changed so much during the last few weeks - her hair is now fairer, and her facial expressions tell it all.

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  10. How wonderful to find a place where the sand-martins are apparently doing well. I look forward to seeing Franc's patience/persistence rewarded too.
    A year? How did that happen. Lily and her mama are both beautiful (which you know) and it must be a delight that your restrictions have eased enough to see them again.

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    1. If the weather is good we will be walking again this week.

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  11. Oh, the triple joy - sand martins, Lily and summer warmth.
    I know you will enjoy to the max!

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  12. What a cutie! that face needs some serious grandma kisses!

    Griggsville, IL, was a "home of the purple martins" for years. the center of a town road is a string of housing. Impressive to see. Here is a site:

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_martin#/media/File:Griggsville,_Illinois.jpg

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  13. What beautiful birds!
    Glad you are able to have your walks again with Heaher and Lily. :)

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  14. A friend has barn swallows. Once a year, in the fall, they sit on the wire between the barn and grainery, and the next day, gone.
    So good to see the Lily of the wild hair.

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  15. Goodness how time flies, Lily being nearly one year old, sweet little one.
    Nice capture of the swallow there.

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  16. Olala Lily a bien grandit!Bientôt déjà un an, que le temps passe vite!
    Les hirondelles sont sympas à observer.
    Bonne journée

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  17. Hi David.

    Nice to be able to follow the Swallows there.

    And super lily to see again, she's getting big already.
    Really fun.

    Greetings from Patricia.

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  18. Hello,

    Lily does not look to happy, she has grown. What a cutie! Love the Sand Martins, nice shots of the nesting area. Take care, enjoy your day!

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    1. In fact she was perfectly happy. I guess we just didn't catch her with a smile on her face.

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  19. How lovely that something as utilitarian as concrete blocks are turning out to be useful for the sand martins and being able to share walks with Lily and her mother again must feel like a real treat.

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  20. Lily is such a schatje (cutie). This is a precious age. Throwing shoes? O ja, all my kids were throwing shoes.

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    1. I am looking forward to seeing her again on Friday.

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  21. Can Lily get any cuter! Sometimes the birds get to play second fiddle to the antics of a little girl.

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  22. Well done Franc and so please that we were all invited along to see these Bank Swallows, what a privilege. Sorry David I have not been keeping up with blogging or following, just too busy in the garden during the day and in the kitchen when I move inside. I have quite a few photos that I have taken but just no time to blog them, I will get there eventually!
    Meanwhile take care and keep well both of you. Diane

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    1. Don't apologize, Diane. It's good that you have a busy life away from the computer which can sometimes become an unreasonable dictator to us all.

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  23. I am amazed that they find enough space i those holes.

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    1. If I hadn't seen them coming in and out with my own eyes, I would have doubted it too.

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  24. I never seen "Bank Swallow," look like bigger than swallow I knew... glad to know.
    Thank you for sharing your knowledge and beautiful photos.

    # Have a great summer to little cute Lily...

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  25. Hi David,
    The Barn Swallows photos are fantastic. How interesting they make the nests in the holes of these concrete blocks.
    I loved seeing your beautiful princesses Heather and Lily and I also wish to them and to you and Miriam a wonderful summer.

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  26. Enhorabuena Franc, por esas bellas imágenes en vuelo.
    Es de agradecer la colocación de esos bloques y conseguir que establezcan colonias, imagino no es tarea fácil.
    La pequeña Lily está preciosa y cómo pasa el tiempo 1 añito ya. En una de las fotos demuestra cara de no buenos amigos, ya quiere mandar, es toda una jefa.
    Un fuerte abrazo amigo y compadre David.

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  27. Buenas pilladas en vuelo. Vaya como ha crecido Lily está preciosa, pero parecía un poco enfadada :)) Se me fue la conexión al soltar el comentario, puede que salgan dos. Gracias amigo.
    Buen miércoles David. Cuidaros.
    Un abrazo.

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  28. hello David
    I can only confirm that with the swallows, it is almost impossible to follow the camera that fast, but as you can see in the pictures it works, mmhh I have to get faster ;-)
    lily has grown vigorously, the facial expressions are very cute
    Greetings Frank

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  29. I saw some Bank Swallows at Orby Head on the island earlier this spring. I couldn’t get any photos though. Love those birds.

    Lily is growing up so quickly, the little cutie.

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  30. Greetings David! Interesting nesting habits of swallows. I've seen some birds (though not swallow) exploring holes and tiny lil spaces, but the idea of living or nesting in them is unexpected. Surprising!

    Also, Lily is adorable and smart kid, hope she is enjoying the walks and seeing other people too, after the lockdown.

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  31. I think she was just born, Lily, but time fly as fast as a swallow.
    The concrete nests are great.

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  32. The sand martens have unusual nesting spots amid those concrete barriers. I have never heard of this species, which is not unusual for me, so thanks for sharing the info and Franc's photos, David. Yes, young Lily is growing up as fast as our great nieces and grandchildren and not having seem them for over a year, it shows more remarkably. I will be sure to pass along your birthday wishes to our friend, Margaret, when we talk later this week.

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  33. So pleased that you were able to go along with Franc and see the Bank Swallows, lovely photographs.

    Talking of lovely photographs; how good that you are now able to meet up with Heather and Lily.
    It doesn't seem possible that Lily will soon be one years old, time passes by so quickly.
    Lovely photographs.

    All the best Jan

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  34. How are you, dear friend !!!
    I love swallows and their nests
    so original but the
    beauty
    and Lily's purity of soul
    leave everything else in the shadows.
    I missed her a lot and
    i am happy to see her again 🌸ξξ (∵❤◡❤∵) ♩ ♪♬ ℒ ♡ ⓥℯ🌸
    Muchos besos y abrazos para todos ustedes, gente maravillosa!!

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  35. Por aqui, en este tiempo también se ven golondrinas. Anidan en lo más alto de las fachadas de las casas y desaparecen al cambio de estación.

    Me gustn las imágenes de las golondrinas volando y la imagen de la niña que posa con normalidad, aunque en una de esas imágenes parece enfadada...sus motivos tendrá.

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  36. Hi David - I remember sandmartins from South African days ... Francs photos are amazing ... I look forward to his return with lots of patience! They do adapt don't they ... and can 'accommodate' themselves in microscopic nesting places.
    Lily is certainly letting her character be known ... but how wonderful to see you were able to meet up with them again ... and nearly a year - amazing.
    Cheers and thanks for the update - Hilary

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  37. Aww! Lily is too cute! Lovely photos as always, David.

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  38. Those nests are so interesting.
    Wow Lily is almost a year old, time flies. So nice that you were able to get together again.

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  39. Maybe cement block holes could replace some habitat and help a comeback of the swallows along. Wonder if anyone is working on that ….
    Where I used to live in Minnesota I watched a group of them make a colony out of an excavated area that created a sort of cliff. They nested there for several summers, until development continued and suddenly the “cliff” was gone. It was fun to watch them at work and my children sadly missed our little trips there when their homes were leveled.

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  40. It never ceases to amaze me the lengths that some people will go to to get access to good birding sites, but buying an RV just to get visiting rights to a Sand Martin colony has to be right at the top of the list! Hats off to Franc and Carol!

    My, how Lily has grown - a real cutie. I love the expressions in her face.

    Best wishes - - - Richard

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  41. When we had a summer home in Eastport, Newfoundland, we observed many bank swallows every summer during the first 10 years or so, then they disappeared. We often commented on how sad we were that happened when nothing had changed there habitat wise during that time frame.
    How nice to witness them and fortuitous the concrete holes are working well for these precious birds. What a treat to see Heather and a much grown Lily again!

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  42. Lily just gets cuter and cuter. Love her expressions.

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  43. Well, I had to laugh out loud at that pouty Lily face!
    How interesting that the swallows have adapted the concrete blocks as their nesting holes, but wouldn't you think the concrete would be too hot inside the block? The normal style of nest inside the bank would be cooler i think.

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    1. On the contrary, I think that the thick layer of concrete would act as fine insulator and would keep the nest pleasantly cool.

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  44. Me alegra que disfrutaran del paseo. Lily ha crecido mucho, está muy guapa. Muchas felicidades por su cumpleaños. Abrazos y besos.

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  45. Hi David,
    Frank did a marvelous job, catching a swallow this way. Beautiful picture!
    It must have been a great joy seeing Lilly again after so many weeks. She certainly doesn't look like a little baby anymore.

    Best regards, Corrie

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  46. David - nature finds a way!! Well done to Franc for the photo in flight. And of course, Lily is adorable - enjoy this age - as you know well, they grow up quickly!!!

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  47. Lots of sand martins when we went to Minsmere this year, though they seem to have largely deserted the artificial bank that has been constructed for them and are nesting instead along the earthen sea cliff of Dunwich Heath. Anecdotally there seem to be less at the many old gravel-pit reserves this year. Lily's growing up fast.

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  48. Beautiful photos. Riparia riparia are not easy to photograph. Lily is a beautiful little girl.

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  49. Hello, David
    Lily is adorable, cute photo. Your Sand Martins captures are great, it is interesting seeing where they nest. Thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Take care, have a happy weekend! PS, thank you for the comment on my blog.

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  50. Lily is most adorable! It is really difficult to catch these birds in flight, great captures!

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  51. Hi David, The story of the swallows using the holes in the concrete for nesting is fascinating. The more I learn about birds the more respect I have for the intelligence they have to do things like this. Lily has a wonderful smile! Thank you for sharing. John

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  52. The flight photos are really remarkable! And Lily is so expressive -- and cute.

    best... mae at maefood.blogspot.com

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  53. Oh my...she just gets cuter and cuter! I wonder how my hair would look in this style! Looks might cute on her. And yes, I've tried to capture Swallows in flight and it is difficult! Well done Franc!

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  54. love the sandmartins and Franc's images are gorgeous. With my old camea, a Canon, I could do it. It was half manual. So I focused with my fingers. :) My Lumix can catch it, but it is merely by chance. Mybe one of 50 is OK. TIme flies, Lily´s first birtday soon arrives. :) Hug her if you are allowed to do it at that point. :)

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  55. Lily is really getting big! Love that pouty face! The swallows sound fascinating -- what an interesting nesting spot. And the flight image -- fabulous!

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  56. Wonderful those photographs in full flight. Lily is very pretty, she has grown a lot too.
    A thousand Kisses.

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  57. I was fascinated but not surprised by the swallows' adaptive behavior. At one of the marinas where I work, there are floating docks. They're square concrete pads on top, supported by floats. Where the floats and the concrete surface intersect, there are spaces that, naturally enough, remain above water. The swallows build nests in those spaces, and it's absolutely hilarious to watch the parents come flying in with food for the babies, only a couple of feet above the water's surface and flying fast. What's even more amusing is that, long before I spot a parent, I know they're coming, because the babies begin cheeping. How they know is an amazing mystery, but they do know, even though they're tucked away in their nest where no one can see in and they can't see out.

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