Friday, 5 August 2011

Happiness is a Hirundine

When John Hyde phoned on Monday to say he had some swallow broods in need of ringing on Wednesday, we couldn’t say no. How could we, especially as he mentioned the possibility of catching house martins too…

Based on what we had seen on other blogs, catching house martins seemed like a piece of pie. Put a net, on a really long pole, outside the nest and wait for the birds to fly out. Easy. Sadly, we are a little bit slow and so it was Wednesday lunchtime that we were out shopping for a really long pole and discussing what net we should use. All we had to hand was a landing net with about as much bag as a shirt pocket.

When we arrived at the farm it was buzzing with more hirundines than health and safety would allow you to shake a stick at. Swallows zoomed in and out of stables, while several pairs of house martins busied themselves around the eaves of the farm house. More of both were lined up on the over head wires. How could we possibly fail!?!

An additional net was put up along a track that obviously wouldn’t put off the 30 or so house sparrows we’d seen there. Clearly we’d soon be inundated with house martins and house sparrows so John got cracking with the swallow pulli.

An hour later we had 1 house martin and 1 house sparrow … plus a dunnock and a chiffchaff…

House Martin #1

Deciding we needed to improve out house martin catching equipment before another attempt, we turned our attention to one particular set of stables where we had witnessed over the preceding hour, about a dozen swallows flying in and out with the regularity of a high fibre diet. Sadly, once CJ and Facey were on either end of a 40ft net the swallows’ presence became as regular as British Rail. 1 swallow later we couldn’t leave too disheartened as we had met with success of sorts…

CJ engaging in an activity know as the forlorn hope

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