Sand Martins on a golf course? Whatever next!

In May this year, we were contact by a member of the public with concerns about a colony of Sand Martins which in previous years had suffered disturbance leading to breeding failure. The colony is on land owned by Bude & North Cornwall Golf Club, although not directly on the golf course. It is however adjacent to a public footpath and visible from a nearby public road.

I contacted the Golf Club who were very willing to help. They immediately roped off the area of the colony and put up notices asking passing walkers not to disturb the birds. I visited the colony a few days later and found it to be very busy with about 35 burrows in use and a lot of excavating going on. A Sand Martin flies in and next minute there is sand flying out of the hole.

I visited again in late June and estimated 38 burrows in use. There were birds flying in all directions with many juveniles flying with the adults. There were also lots of visits to the burrows to feed chicks not yet fledged. The good news was that there was no sign of any disturbance or damage to the colony over and above natural erosion of the sand.

My final visit was on 24th July. The colony had been vacated with no Sand Martins in sight. Again the good news is there was no evidence of any disturbance to the colony. I took a closer look and estimated that 35-40 burrows had been in use this year.

A great success story and our thanks go to Bude and North Cornwall Golf Club for their support.

Steve Ashby