House Martin – first and last dates

Delichon urbica – GWENNOL Y BONDO – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in January and December

Earlier records are summarised in House Martin 1994

YearFirst sightingLast sightingNotes
199315 March25 October
199429 March9 October
199519 March15 October
199613 March4 November
199721 March5 NovemberOver 250 pairs estimated along sea-cliffs around Castlemartin area
199821 March25 October
19991 April17 October
200021 March24 October
200121 March22 October
200224 March28 OctoberOne Hakin 29 January – first January record for Pembrokeshire
20034 April11 October
20048 April30 October
200511 April15 October
20061 April13 October
20077 April18 November
20083 April26 October
200918 March19 October
201029 March11 October
20111 April3 October
20122 April13 October
20136 March5 OctoberFirst breeding on Ramsey in an artificial box
20148 April17 NovemberSingle pair nested on Ramsey
20154 April20 October
201625 March28 OctoberWinter record of a single bird at Tenby 29-31 January
201712 March13 November
201819 March3 October
201918 March9 October
202021 March26 October

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

More about the House Martin in Pembrokeshire

House Martin – 2003-07 breeding

Delichon urbica – GWENNOL Y BONDO – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in January and December

Comparison with previous atlas:

1984-882003-07
Breeding confirmed197235
Breeding probable717
Breeding possibleexcluded from totalexcluded from total
No of tetrads occupied204 (of 478)252 (of 490)
Percentage of tetrads42.7%51.4%

Most House Martins arrive in Pembrokeshire between early and mid April, although there have been sightings as early as February.  

House martins are highly dependent on buildings for nest sites with up to 99% of the breeding population building mud nests, or utilising artificial nest boxes positioned high-up on walls beneath over-hanging eaves, which protect the nest and its contents from adverse weather. In Pembrokeshire, a small proportion of House Martins nest in sea caves, or beneath over-hangs on sea cliffs. Colonies can be found, for example nesting in/on sea cliffs to the south of Ceibwr; at Nolton Haven and on the Castlemartin coast.

The 1984-88 tetrad survey confirmed that House Martins are widely distributed as a breeding species across the county.  A comparison between this and the 2003-07 tetrad survey suggests a stable or slightly increasing breeding population:

The tetrad map illustrates where localised changes in the distribution of breeding House Martins have occurred in between the two tetrad surveys. House Martins are absent as a breeding species from all the offshore islands, with the exception of Caldey Island, where it was recorded as “probable breeding” during the 2003-07 tetrad survey.  They are also absent from the tops of the Preseli Hills and from heavily wooded areas.

Whilst the breeding population of House Martins has generally remained stable or increased overall, localised losses from some tetrads could be due to a number of factors, which may also hold the key to their future as a breeding species in the county.  These factors include future availability of suitable nest sites. It is vital that building renovations, as well as new buildings take account of their nesting requirements if they are to continue to grace our skies. The availability of mud for nest-building is also vital as this resource can be easily lost e.g. as a result of tidying up muddy seepages, hollows and puddles. A single source of mud may supply the entire House Martin population on farms or in small settlements. Other key factors include abundance and distribution of aerial insects.

Following the 1984-88 tetrad survey, the total breeding population of House Martins in the county was estimated to be around 4,000 pairs (an average density of 20 pairs per tetrad was assumed).On this basis, an increase of 16% of tetrads where breeding was confirmed during the 2003-07 tetrad survey suggests a total breeding population of about 4,700 pairs.

Jane Hodges

Records extracted from the Pembrokeshire Bird Reports, which may contain more detail than shown here.

More about the House Martin in Pembrokeshire

House Martin – 1994

Delichon urbica – GWENNOL Y BONDO – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in January and December

1984-88
Breeding confirmed197
Breeding probable7
Breeding possibleexcluded from total
No of tetrads occupied204 (of 478)
Percentage of tetrads42.7%

A common summer visitor to both Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949), today House Martins are widespread breeding birds (see map). Most nest on buildings, but there are also thriving cliff colonies at many places around the coast, as at Ceibwr and Nolton Haven, and a colony of three pairs was at Skomer in 1969. At an estimated 20 pairs per tetrad the breeding population is probably about 4,000 pairs.

The first House Martins usually arrive here in early to mid-April. However, birds occur from 20 March in some years, and really early birds were at Pointz Castle on 17 February 1958 and at Moylgrove on 23 February 1984, and one was found freshly dead at Dale on 10 February 1982. This latter record followed a period of southerly winds bearing Saharan sand, which might have borne the bird, displacing it in the same way as moths are taken way beyond their normal range. Northward passage continues on a broad front across the county but most densely at the coast, throughout April and May and into early June. They often pause over freshwater sites, particularly during rain or fog, when congregations of up to 200 occur, as at Pembroke Mill Pond on 17 April 1983.

Southwards movement occurs from late July and continues until October, with stragglers until 19 November in some years. The volume is probably larger than in spring with fewer concentrations, though 250 have been recorded at Skokholm.

Although principally a diurnal migrant they were recorded at lighthouse attractions at the South Bishop on 29 May 1975 and at the Smalls on 20 May 1984 and 29 and 30 September 1983.

Donovan J.W. & Rees G.H, 1994, Birds of Pembrokeshire

More about the House Martin in Pembrokeshire

House Martin

Delichon urbica – GWENNOL Y BONDO – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant.

House Martin – 2003-07 breeding

Delichon urbica – GWENNOL Y BONDO – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in January and December Comparison with previous atlas: 1984-88 2003-07 Breeding confirmed 197 235 Breeding probable 7 17 Breeding possible excluded from total excluded from total No of tetrads occupied 204 (of 478) 252 (of 490) Percentage of tetrads 42.7% 51.4% […]

House Martin – 1994

Delichon urbica – GWENNOL Y BONDO – Breeding summer visitor and passage migrant. Not recorded in January and December 1984-88 Breeding confirmed 197 Breeding probable 7 Breeding possible excluded from total No of tetrads occupied 204 (of 478) Percentage of tetrads 42.7% A common summer visitor to both Mathew (1894) and Lockley et al. (1949), today House Martins […]

House-Martin – 1949

Species account from the Birds of Pembrokeshire, 1949, by Lockley, Ingram and Salmon.

House Martin – 1894

MARTIN, Chelidon urbica A common summer visitor. As Mr. Dix also observed in his district, the Martins were not so numerous with us as the Swallows, but we generally had a few pairs nesting about the house. They arrived about a fortnight after the Swallows, and departed again in detachments in September and October. Mathew M.A. 1894, Birds of […]