|Irish Name:||Gabhlán Gainimh|
|Scientific name:||Riparia riparia|
|Bird Family:||Swallows & Martins|
Widespread summer visitor throughout Ireland from mid-March to September.
Our smallest breeding Hirundine species, being about a third smaller than both House Martin and Swallow. Adult Sand Martins have a brown head, back, rump and wings. The throat is white, as are the belly and vent except for a broad brown breast band. Juveniles have a pale yellow wash to head throat and face, as well as breast. The breast band is also noticeably narrower. In all plumages, has only a small fork in the tail, never has the long tail streamers of the Swallow.
A rather hoarse “chrechrechre” is frequently given by birds flying over and which can serve as contact call and song. Noticeably different to the more musical calls of Swallows and House Martins, it is a good way of finding Sand Martins within mixed flocks of hirundines.
Almost exclusively feeds on insects caught in flight.
Sand Martins breed in burrows dug into river banks or quarries. These breeding sites are vulnerable to predation by Mink and Red Fox. Feeding birds disperse widely, favouring wetlands and rural areas. Less frequently seen in urban areas.
This species winters in sub-Saharan Africa, crossing the Sahara Desert in autumn and spring.
Countryside Bird Survey and BirdTrack.
Common and widespread Summer visitor throughout Ireland.
On very rare occasions, individuals may delay migration until the start of Winter.