Date: 6/7/19 5:22 am From: Dennis Skillman <d.skillman...> Subject: [NHBirds] Seacoast Purple Martin update
After another cold and rainy spring, things are looking up at the Seabrook Martin Colony off of Cross Beach Road. Unlike the previous two years, we did not find any dead wet Martins in our gourds. There was one dead adult male found on the road by a neighbor that appeared in good condition. It could have been struck by a predator. The weather did pose a challenge however. We did four supplemental feedings by placing freeze-dried meal worms and crickets in the gourds during breaks in cold stormy periods. All of which had disappeared by the next nest check, so we believe that helped the early arrivals get through some tough weather. Below is my report from yesterday:
June 6, 2019: Warren Tested and I were able to get into Seabrook after the rain stopped and before the tide came rushing back into the "moat". We had eggs in 9 of the gourds for a total of 34 eggs. One gourd had 6 eggs, 4 had 5 each, 1 had 4, 1 had 2 and 2 had 1. We counted 15 Martins leaving the gourds, and 18 returning. Only 1 of the gourds had no nesting activity and 4 of the eggless nests had green leaves added. So a big change in the last week! And much more egg laying to come. No sign yet of the Martins harassing the swallows, so I am thinking that last year's fledglings have yet to arrive. When Warren and I went to Seabrook yesterday we saw what appeared to be Martins feeding on the ground. This is something we have never seen before. Martins were continuously going to the ground around the gourds (to hundreds of feet away from the gourd rack and onto the surface of the high marsh). We watched for 5-10 minutes and it never varied. Up and down on a frequency of 10's of seconds. None were seen carrying grass and most gourds had complete nests, so I think that can be ruled out. It appeared that the entire group was doing this.
The new site off Island Path Road in Hampton has no Martins and two Tree Swallow nests, one of which was very well developed with a lining of feathers but no eggs visible.
On private land in Rye a Martin nest site with 14 gourds has eggs and more Martins than ever. We also have reports of Martin sightings at the restored nests at the Portsmouth Country Club. Earlier this spring Warren Trested, John Cavanagh and myself assisted the installation of a brand new 6 gourd nest site on land owned by The nature Conservancy in Newmarket.
The work in Seabrook, Hampton and at the TNC is supported by Pam Hunt's NH Audubon Aerial Insectivore Project and the efforts of volunteers.