It's been a tough year for a lot of wildlife on Ramsey thanks to the largely unsettled weather, in particular our swallows and house martins. All was looking rosy for them following a dry and settled spring but following the wettest June on record for the island all that changed.
Our 10 pairs of house martins were all incubating or had small chicks in the first week of June but following 155mm (over 5" in old money) of rain in the first 10 days all that changed. Unable to feed themselves or provision for small mouths many pairs failed. They valiantly tried again when we experienced a mini 'heatwave' mid month only for more wet and windy weather to scupper them in the final week of June. For most birds that was enough and out of 10 pairs initially we now have 1 solitary pair battling the highly variable August weather. The good news is they are well down the line and large chicks are hanging out of the nest being fed under the eaves of the farmhouse as I type (despite more rain!). The forecast for next week is unsettled but fingers crossed....
A rare sight this year and box 12 is the only pair that will (hopefully) fledge any young in 2017
A plentiful supply of insects on Ramsey mean we usually have around 10-12 pairs of swallows breeding in the farm buildings, the public loos and even skimming the heads of visitors during the introductory talk as they bring food into hungry chicks at the back of the welcome shed! They too suffered a similar fate to the house martins, but rather than give up and abandon they battled on and have all gone on to try again. As of yesterday 11 pairs had chicks in nests, all from pairs that had relaid following failures first time around.
A lot of chicks are quite small still and with August feeling more like October at the moment they aren't out of the woods but a few sunny, insect filled days among the rain and gloom should just about see them through.
Hungry swallow chicks - unlike the house martins the swallows tried again and 11 pairs now have small to medium sized chicks