House Martins

Hello. I have joined the community again after a gap of about 8 years. I used to be known as JEF then Goldcrest but had to log in with new name to access my old profile. Anyway, I am now known as Firecrest.

We have had House Martins visit our house for the last 20+ years. We did have a gap of four years but now realise a young Beech tree blew down which left a clear path to the nests again, so they returned, much to my joy!

Numbers have been pretty consistent since the first pair returned and they are the highlight of my spring and summer. I am very concerned because so far only one pair have returned this year. We first saw them about 12 days ago but no sign of any more.

There is no sign of any swallows or house martins when I walk the dog around our usual haunts, where usually we see loads. Please can anyone tell us if they are late this year?

Thank you.

  • Sorry, I am in Cumbria.
  • Hi Firecrest welcome back.
    You need Robbo for this one, he gets them on his house so will be able to tell you if they have arrived back in any numbers, I'm just outside of Sheffield and up to now I've seen very few House Martins or Swallows..and no Swifts yet.

    My Flickr photos

  • Not much help to you perhaps, Firecrest, but here in Switzerland we have House Martins, Crag Martins, Barn Swallows, and Alpine Swifts pretty much on the same day this year as last year (same, incidentally, for Cuckoos, Black Kites, and Wrynecks).
    All the best -
  • Thank you all. I am still hoping as I have only seen the pair which nest on our highest eaves. Our house has the upstairs windows in the roof, so the eaves where we have 5 other nests are very low. When the HM are feeding young they fly in and out just above my head, it is wonderful. Thats how we know immediately they are back. They swoop in and out of the nests then seem to disappear for a week or so, I guess to feed up. We still see them around and about over the fields which surround us. We had so many last year, 2 or 3 successful broods in each of 5 nests!

    Yes Robbo, we do have house and tree sparrows. For the last two or three years, a pair have ignored the sparrow box I put up, just a few feet away from the HM nests, and bred in one of the HM nest. Luckily, the house martins waited until the nest was empty then bred successfully anyway. Meanwhile, a pair of great tits used the sparrow box. The sparrows seem to be using the box this year.
    I have only seen our 2 HM's and a couple of swallows and no swifts. It is very worrying but I have not completely given up hope.
    Thank you again for all your advice and comments. I will let you know if others arrive.
  • Still no more sightings. Walked down to the local pub yesterday where they have loads of nests. We are used to the birds swooping everywhere and chattering to each other, it gets quite noisy. Did not see one bird. Is it too late to hope now as 2nd May?
  • First Common Swifts close by here (in Switzerland) on 1 May; first over our garden (around 400m lower, altitude-wise) today (2 May).

    Will encourage some House Martins to head north-north-east.

    Best regards -
  • Thanks Dave, I would be most grateful :-D
  • Anything to oblige, Firecrest.
  • Hurrah! We were away up Nether Wasdale this weekend. When we returned today (Sunday 12th) our House martins have returned. I watched them swooping in and out of four of the nests so that is at least 8 birds returned (it looked more but time will tell how many nest here) about a month later than usual plus the pair who returned on time.

    I have not had a chance to walk about our area so cannot comment on local house martin numbers elsewhere or swallows and swifts. I am so chuffed about the house martins. I can now look forward to summer, hearing their chatter each day, finding little white eggs on our path and watching the newly fledged birds emerge. It would have been awful without them.
  • We were on holiday in S W Scotland last week and House Martins seemed to arrive on the same weekend as us. By the middle of the week they were patching up the old nests on the cottage we were using. According to the owners the numbers were much lower than normal and about two weeks late, We were only over the Solway Firth from you Firecrest so conditions may be similar.


    Birding is for everyone no matter how good or bad we are at it,enjoy it while you can