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Samstag, 8. Juni 2013

Meet Martin!

Yesterday I went back to Antequera by train - laden with 8 cement tiles! (more on this later) - and of course, Martin!
Martin is a young Crag Martin (Felsenschwalbe, Ptyonoprogne rupestris), that I found on Tuesday near the river Hozgarganta.

He is recognizable by the white spots on the tail. As you might imagine, I just couldn´t step over him and say: " The next cat/ rat/ snake etc. will take care of you". So I put him in my camera bag and brought him home. Since then I was continuously hunting insects!
Fortunately the chinese shop had a butterfly net and tweezers, and there were empty water bottles in the house. Do you remember my grasshopper hunting for the swifts? (here)
I had to realize though that the grasshopper season has only just started, and there were not many around. Oh, those hitherto unknown joys of finding fresh dog-shit with flies on it or - even better: fresh horse droppings! One scoop with the net brought me about twenty flies, and I could come back ten minutes later for the next scoop. Once they had dried out though, the flies were not interested in them any more...
So I invented a fly trap!

An empty water bottle with some fresh - irresistibly smelling - cat shit! The flies went in and then didn't find the way out. Every hour would bring me about 3 to 5 flies. I then held another bottle over the opening, flies would fly up into that one - close it and into the freezer, while the trap could be placed again!
Martin, like the swifts, had to be force-fed, and I gave him about 10-15 little insects every 1 1/2 to 2 hours from sunset to sundown - around one hundred per day! So, of course, the fly trap didn't yield enough, but it helped. During the rest of the day, I was mainly around hunting insects.
I kept Martin in a big pottery jar in my apartment - a cat-free zone.

He never made a sound, but once I managed to get a fly into his beak, swallowed readily and seemed to like it. When he had enough, he would spit the insect out.

Yesterday I had to leave Jimena and had to bring him on the train to Antequera. I chose the camera bag as means of transportation again and had a box of insects with me, thinking of maybe locking me in the toilet during the 2 1/2 hour train ride to feed him.
Not long after we had started the ride, I heard a vague noise - quite in tune with the rumble of the train. It got stronger and I took the camera bag, opened it carefully - and saw a screaming bird with a wide open beak! I couldn't believe my eyes!!!
So I took the insect box out and started feeding...

I documented the progress in my note-book and so can inform you, that 25 minutes after leaving Jimena  (16.35) he had already devoured 13 flies! By 17.45 my box was empty - gone were another 15 insects, 3 of which were rather big grasshoppers!
At home I had at least some old mealworms - and the pet shop had crickets!
Now he has a new "nest", likes to sit on the rim and gives a tweet every 15 min or so... then I rush and shove a cricket down his throat - the bigger ones I have to cut in two.

I just bought the last box of crickets from the pet shop and hope it lasts over the weekend - together with what I might catch!