As part of North Lancs Ringing Group's Sand martin Retrapping Adults for Survival (RAS) we are regularly catch Sand martins ringed in the UK and France. Consequently the first two retraps in a recent visit being from the UK (Lune valley) and a bird from France were of no surprise. The next bird had a ring had an address of 'Icona, Madrid' which is our 9th from the main Spanish ringing scheme. Amazingly the fourth retrap to be caught was carrying a ring was addressed 'San Sebastian, Aranzadi'. This is the first Sand martin we have caught from the Basque ringing scheme in Spain and only the second bird the group has caught from it (the first being a Reed Warbler in 2010 near Heysham).
While it is always nice to catch birds from elsewhere the RAS project is all about returning birds to their breeding sites. As I have said many times it is no surprise that Sand martins from the Lune go through France (in fact, it would be a surprise if one did not). Spain, again is no surprise, however some Sand Martins do go to Africa via Italy.
So far this year NLRG has retrapped around 100 adults from previous years in two colonies with around 450 pairs. The oldest bird was originally ringed in 2010 as an adult with several captures since. For a Sand martin this is getting to be a good old age.
Two more major colonies are much further behind in their breeding cycles so are yet to be visited.
As always, many thanks to everyone who makes this project possible.