A few highlights from a late afternoon visit to the Sand Martin colony on the River Mersey in Didsbury.

With the colony lit up by the warm afternoon sunshine I was hoping for a few respectable photo’s of the Sand Martin’s in flight. However as usual the photography came a distant 2nd to the experience of the smallest of our hirundines weaving in and out of the good people of Didsbury cycling and walking along the Transpennine Trail.

One of the really enjoyable aspects of photographing birds is that with fast moving species the camera tends to capture detail that is too fast for the eye to see. Watching a colony of Sand Martins and the high speed interaction of the individual birds is fascinating. Although perhaps not quite as glamorous as the closely related Swallows or House Martins the diminutive Sand Martin more than makes up for it with their gregarious nature and character.

Too close. An approaching adult is given short shrift.

Hovering at 1/2000th of a second the approach stalls.

I’m a little bit perplexed regarding the holes in the riverbank. Possibly the result of erosion to the previous year’s nesting holes? With the mystery of bird migration now understood some of the more fanciful theories of the Victorian naturalists eg. hibernation tunnels can probably be discounted 🙂

A happy couple.

Based solely upon their behaviour the central bird of the 3 is probably an adult female with the fast approaching bird being an adult male. The female appeared to be feeding the younger birds to either side.

A real pleasure to watch.

Sadly the former colony to the rear of the Waterside Leisure Club has been replaced with an artificial nesting bank and the slump to the riverbank “repaired.” With another colony close to Banky Meadows really good to see the Sand Martins nesting along the banks of the River Mersey as it meanders it way through south Manchester.

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