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House Martins returned (1 Viewer)

Simon Wates

Well-known member
I thought it may be of some interest that 2 of "my" (well the next door neighbour's) House Martins have returned today around half an hour before sunset to roost in their nests. Yippee - they are wonderful aren't they! Hopefully a few more will come very soon. This is coastal western Algarve, Portugal. Temperatures are between 10ºC and 17ºC at the moment. its usually a little cooler and we are in our coldest month of the year, with Feb and the first half of March not so different. Since I've been at this location, during the last 4 years, they have always returned close to end of January. My neighbours says, that around 10 years ago they always came back around the 7th February.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
Got to wonder why they bother leaving at all! The average temperature can't be more than a fraction of a degree colder in early/mid January, than it is at the end of January.
 

Simon Wates

Well-known member
Got to wonder why they bother leaving at all! The average temperature can't be more than a fraction of a degree colder in early/mid January, than it is at the end of January.

That's an interesting thought!

Although its difficult for me to prove, I believe the birds which have just returned are the ones that breed here. I don't think they are "staging" to go north later.

However, in the autumn, I'm pretty convinced that migratory birds coming from further north use the nests to rest on migration - and hang around for a while.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
It must be pretty hard for them to shake off their migratory urge completely. Presumably they just popped down to N Africa somewhere, and they feel happy their hormones and fat reserves are all in order after being around plenty of flying insects for a brief spell.

It is also interesting 'almost proof' that they are dispersing and staying together on migration and then wintering as 'a pair'.
 

Simon Wates

Well-known member
It must be pretty hard for them to shake off their migratory urge completely. Presumably they just popped down to N Africa somewhere, and they feel happy their hormones and fat reserves are all in order after being around plenty of flying insects for a brief spell.

It is also interesting 'almost proof' that they are dispersing and staying together on migration and then wintering as 'a pair'.

I wonder if they only go into N.Africa. I get the feeling the breeding ones here leave in August sometime. Again with "almost proof" :-O
 

Simon Wates

Well-known member
What you need is a GPS tracker.... :t:

John

True, though also a ringing license and a project, none of which I have. I can't even afford a paintball gun :-O

All the same, its nice to leave them alone and enjoy the mystery, I'm sure there are worthier targets of research. I do have a hunch though, that our breeding birds cross the Sahara ;)
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
True, though also a ringing license and a project, none of which I have. I can't even afford a paintball gun :-O

All the same, its nice to leave them alone and enjoy the mystery, I'm sure there are worthier targets of research. I do have a hunch though, that our breeding birds cross the Sahara ;)

I thought it was basically scientifically proven that more northerly breeding birds in a species in W Europe generally leap frog more southerly individuals in travelling further south in winter.

But it is fair to say that you are probably right - there would have to be lots of eg House Martins wintering in N Africa, for me to be right, which I'm sure there aren't ;)
 
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Simon Wates

Well-known member
I thought it was basically scientifically proven that more northerly breeding birds in a species in W Europe generally leap frog more southerly individuals in travelling further south in winter.

There is a name for this rule/phenomenon - can't remember it now...anyone?
 

Simon Wates

Well-known member
But it is fair to say that you are probably right - there would have to be lots of eg House Martins wintering in N Africa, for me to be right, which I'm sure there aren't ;)

I haven't heard of any significant amounts of them either. Here, they seem to almost disappear, inc. migrants by late-mid September with only the odd singles or single figure groups into October
 

Simon Wates

Well-known member
Think it's usually just called 'leap-frog migration' :-O

Nature never fails to surprise me, now frogs cross the Sahara...B :)

Seriously, I remember reading about this years ago. The example given was that apparently Barn Swallows breeding in northern Norway get down the their most southern parts of Africa, while those breeding in southern Europe (where conditions are often much easier for breeding) winter substantially further north - though still crossing the Sahara. I'd look up the name for this phenomena but I can't recall the name of it.
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
Nature never fails to surprise me, now frogs cross the Sahara...B :)

Seriously, I remember reading about this years ago. The example given was that apparently Barn Swallows breeding in northern Norway get down the their most southern parts of Africa, while those breeding in southern Europe (where conditions are often much easier for breeding) winter substantially further north - though still crossing the Sahara. I'd look up the name for this phenomena but I can't recall the name of it.

try googling 'leap-frog migration'

;) ;)
 

Simon Wates

Well-known member
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dantheman

Bah humbug
Thanks Dan, I did - but that word or words I can't remember wasn't that. ;) But maybe I'm just getting too old and my memory is failing. The search does bring up many very articles that use leap-frog migration. I'll sit back down :t:

..and I assumed your name is Dan, oh well. ;)

Maybe back in the mid-18thC it had a different name?? ;)
 

Simon Wates

Well-known member
And swallows ?

I saw one bird from home, with wintering Crag Martins early in January. There are plenty of January records but I think we are just about to get many more - fingers crossed.

Although warm weather is nice - the temps here today are around 20ºC, which is pretty out of the ordinary...I suppose June will be 10ºC colder than the UK like last year....
 

gerald762

Well-known member
England
In the last 3 days we have seen a single swallow on each day, different birds I think! They are on the move.
 

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