WEEK-BY-WEEK BIRDS TO SEEK: WEEK 26 HIRUNDINES

EVERY WEEK IN 2017 WE WILL HAVE NEW SUGGESTIONS FOR A DIFFERENT GROUP OF BIRDS TO LOOK FOR TO HELP DEVELOP YOUR #MY200BIRDYEAR LIST

This week, it is Hirundines

We have three species of hirundine (ie swallows and martins) breeding in the UK: Swallow, House Martin and Sand martin. The similar looking Swift is not related! Summer visitors, arriving in spring, they gather up in autumn in numbers prior to diurnal migration. Note that juveniles of all species look like toned down versions of adults

Swallow

Swallow feeding over water

Swallow feeding over water

Swallow underside

Swallow underside

Hirundine is not really very difficult in the UK, with low diversity and pretty distinctive birds. Swallows, or Barn Swallows if you prefer, are slightly larger that the martins, blue black above (including the dark rump), white or buff below with a dark read, dark-lined red throat and very long tail streamers (with white spots at the base of the tail). They are often seen feeding quite low, and nest in out buildings, barns and under bridges etc.

House Martin

House Martin; note white rump

House Martin; note white rump

House Martin underside

House Martin underside

Typical House Martin nest

Typical House Martin nest

Nesting just under the roof of houses, these birds live up to their name. They are blue-black above with an obvious pure white rump. Quite a short forked tail. The underparts, including the throat, are pure white. Often feed quite high up.

Sand Martin

Sand Martin

Sand Martin

Sand Martins near nest holes

Sand Martins near nest holes

The smallest of the three hirundines is also the brownest, brown above (including the rump) and white below, with a brown upper breast band. Sand Martins nest colonially in burrows dug into sand banks.

 

All photos from Alamy