Thursday, 3 October 2013

PhD Research.

A Sand Martin flea, not to scale!
 The host.
 Hannah Wickenden of Oxford Brookes University is in the second year of her PhD. She is sampling Sand Martin fleas from colonies across the country. This sampling is carried out after the birds have finished breeding. There are two different Sand Martin fleas, one in the south and one in the north. There are also hybrids and Hannah is trying to find out if these species are populating new regions, perhaps as a response to climate change.
 Hi tech equipment used for taking nesting material and hopefully finding some fleas.
 Graham digging down to get to some of the nest chambers.
The adult Sand Martins excavate a surprisingly long tunnel.
Once we have finished the sampling the sand is replaced and the wall recapped in readiness for next year.
The two walls at Church Farm were well used this year. We managed to catch a total of 64 birds. This included 19 males and 17 females. One adult was unsexed. We also caught 27 juveniles, which demonstrates how successful the walls have been. We also caught one returning bird that we rung in July 2011.
Our thanks go to Hannah for sharing her knowledge with us and most of all to Graham for his boundless enthusiasm for nature conservation.
Mind you I was pleased to get home and have a shower!

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