8 July 2014

Swallow roost bonus

Having seen how much the reed had grown up at our sewage works site at Gwennap (check out the original reedbed in this blog post), last night we opted to see if any Swallows were roosting there. Bit of a long shot, but if you don't go and check you'll never know.

It didn't look too good as there weren't many birds around anyway, but we stuck up a few nets and hoped. We even added a speculative net alongside one of the settling tanks just in case one of the two regular Green Sandpipers there dropped in. So to cut a long story short, the roost only produced six Swallows and a Chiffchaff, but the extra net chipped in with three more Swallows that got the 'balancing-on-the-top-shelf-for-fun' game a bit wrong and also the hoped for Green Sand - the first ever caught by the group.

This was an adult in active wing moult, and apparently adults birds begin their complete moult on the breeding grounds and slowly moult through migration, finishing on their wintering grounds. Some will also suspend moult part-way through migration, continuing it later in the autumn. As in many waders, it is usually the female that departs first, leaving the male to raise the young which will then start to come through the UK later this month. Either way, a very smart bird indeed!

Our bird wasn't too far into the moult of its primaries
and hadn't started on the secondaries yet.

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