House martin diary 2024

After a dismal start to the season, where one nest was taken immediately and early.....the one that's been most successful over the last 12 years.....and then 'lost' idea why other than sparrows were causing a nuisance.....cold weather then arrived after that......but numbers of martins picked up a bit.

To cut a long story short, there are currently six active nests. One has young a week old and the others appear to be incubating, two of which must be very close to hatching.

There continues to be sparrow involvement, but so far, he, and it is largely just one sparrow, seems more tolerant, or at least less needlessly aggressive than others in previous years. He is clinging onto a swift box, but has failed to attract a mate. There appear fewer female sparrows here this year, and certainly fewer sparrows in young sparrows so far, and usually by mid June there's a garden full from first broods.

The nest on the left is of the one with young in. The adult entered, did a spring clean, and looked out before departing....the right hand nest with a woodpecker hole in is the sixth of 6 nests. Any eggs will have been laid no more than a week ago. It is directly next to the swift box (edge of it just in view) with the male far, only limited conflict. Infact, the swifts are keeping the sparrow in the tree quite a lot today. I think he is feeling a bit out numbered and intimidated.

  •  Quick update. A second nest has hatched. Over the garage roof. Not been overly successful as an adult was predated by a magpie the previous time it was used. Photo attached is of the first nest with a youngster peeping out.

  • Good to see one of the young in the artificial nest cups and hope it fledges successfully.      

    They are amazing flying acrobats .....    took this rubbish photo recently and didn't know they could twist their head round like an owl.  !!!!


    Regards, Hazel 

  • Fingers crossed for a successful breeding season.

  • Another stressful summer for you Robbo! Let's hope for some success.

    (Pardon the Scottish Accent)

  •  Thanks Hazy, Mike and Linda. Quick update is six active nests has now become five. The garage nest had four chicks in. Wildlife rescue now has four more martin chicks. Sparrowhawk and magpies (again for that nest as above) took care of wiping that nest out again. A magpie tried to get into the nest while I was figuring out what to do next. Nestcup was unscrewed and taken with chicks. On a more positive note, first nest has two chicks growing fast poking out in this latest photo, and the neighbouring nest is still incubating and got around to plugging the woodpecker hole.

  • Well done on the rescue...the battle continues.....

    (Pardon the Scottish Accent)

  • Sounds as if your hard work and efforts are paying off in part Robbo and glad to hear there are two growing chicks and the incubating is still happening in the other nest.  Fingers crossed as always as the martins need all the help they can get.   Shame you have had  a battle on your hands with various predators and nuisance house sparrows;    when you think what it takes for a bird like a house martin to not only raise a successful brood nesting under such pressure and think it is a miracle that even one could survive.   Keep us updated but thanks for all your efforts.


    Regards, Hazel 

  • Thanks Linda and Hazy. Yes. I agree. BTO still send out emails stating how unclear it is re causes of house martin decline. I fear they'll be issuing similar in a decade or longer. It is pretty obvious the biggest factor is breeding failure. Climate change and bad weather can be a cause I'm sure......but that affects more than just one species, and it has been pretty clear in recent years that the long, dry spells in recent years have helped martins here...... 

  • A lot of activity in drain pipe nest area yesterday. I did wonder if they'd fledged. They often return back to the nest for a few days to get fed and roost etc.

    Certainly in the nest this morning. Unclear how many there are but clearly at least two in that nest.Still getting fed there too.

    The other nest in the photo I think is still incubating, though a sparrow was above it this morning. An adult martin did enter, throw out something brown then leave again, showing no sign of concern.....

    Patio nest is also still feeding. Not good light for that end of the house this morning, but also at least two young. Two other nests were all quiet......they were definitely active last night, so cold, damp weather and what I'm guessing are very small young now probably just being kept warm.

    Update from garage nest. All four chicks are still alive and apparently doing well. Photo of them from last Saturday. Hunkered down, playing invisible when being handed over to the rescue centre.

  • Thanks for the update and good to hear that the nestlings are faring well at the rescue centre, well done to you all.     Still such a mixed bag of weather this spring/ summer and very unsettled but hoping when the time comes to fledge for the rest of the martins that it is a little kinder to them.       This morning Mike and I joined our parkland wildlife group for planting of common reeds, meadow sweet and Hemp Agrimony which we placed on the edge of the large mere;   hoping to attract reed birds including the return of a bittern or two that were seen a couple of decades ago !   We already have wild mandarin ducks, GC Grebe, odd sighting of L.Grebe and the usual Moorhens, Coots and Heronry but increasing the reed cover will eventually pay off with reed/sedge warblers and maybe a water rail !!    Plant it and they will come. !!   


    Regards, Hazel