Your Birding Month
Five birds to find this month include Garganey, Rock Pipit and Black Redstart
YES, IT IS ALWAYS good to hear the repetitive, stuttering notes of your first singing Chiffchaff, or the beautiful fluty warble of that early singing Blackcap. But, spring only really arrives when the first Sand Martins appear. The soft buzzing call and that exotic sweeping flight are so evocative, reminding you how wonderful spring’s birdwatching will be. Don’t expect them to turn up as soon as March begins, though; Sand Martins are sensible enough to wait until there is a bit of flying insect food before they grace us with their presence. Sometimes (and always depending where you live), you won’t see one until the last week or so of March; though sometimes a week or two earlier. All three of our hirundines love to feed over water, on the abundance of newly-emerged insects, but none is tied to water as much as the little Sand Martin. In addition to doing much of their feeding over water, they also nest colonially in sandy banks which are mostly next to a river, lake, or pit. And the first Sand Martins you see this year will probably be skimming over water. Some beginner birdwatchers still get confused by swallow, martin and Swift identification. But there are only four species to think about and all are easy to recognise. The Sand Martin is the smallest, and is mid-brown over its upperparts with a brown upper breast band on a white background (belly and throat).