🐾 Maybe the reason I love animals so much, is because the only time they have broken my heart is when theirs has stopped beating.

Friday, 16 October 2015

Oh wow! My Swallows are back!

Just as I was giving up hope, yesterday, 15th October 2015, I heard the musical call and chuckling of my Swallows as they flew over the house! And I'm dancing with joy! The night before last we had some rain, a bit, but it left the garden with enough to start the Marigolds sprouting, and then,  there were the Swallows! I guess they really are an indication that the rain is on it's way!

It amazes me that these little birds travel all the way from Central Africa (their non-breeding grounds during our winter in Angola, Tanzania and southern Zaire) and I'm wondering whether they travelled through the night and arrived early-morning or stopped over for the night not far away and then left at first dawn, to arrive here at about lunch time. They have been recorded to travel a distance of 3154km’s. I'm also wondering if they are going to be using one of last year's nests or find a new place to build one. Time will tell.

 My swallows viewing the area from my old peach tree - Greater-striped Swallow (Cecropis/Hirundo cucullata)

The greater striped swallow has a call that is a soft twitter and gargle, and one that is well suited to this gentle bird. While most swallows have a quick, darting style of flight, this member of the family has a slower, more sedate flight and I stood for more than 15 minutes watching them glide and swoop over our smallholding.

Research by National Geographic reveals that up to 4.5 billion birds, representing around 185 species, fly from Europe and Asia in the north to southern Africa and back every year. Interestingly, although they follow the same migration routes every year without fail, the route to their summer destination in the south may differ from the trip back home. Birds that migrate to South Africa include the colourful Greater Striped Swallow, Amur Falcon, White-rumped Swift, White Stork, Pygmy Kingfisher, Yellow-billed Kite, Lesser Kestrel, Honey Buzzard, Woodland Kingfisher, Red-chested Cuckoo, and European Bee-eater.

And now I'm waiting for the Red-chested Cuckoo (Cuculus solitarius) to arrive, usually mid- to end-October. This bird is a brood parasite, meaning that it lays its eggs in other bird nests. The host, thinking that the egg is its own, incubates the egg and cares for the chick. On our previous smallholding, I watched as the poor Karoo Thrush reared a nestling twice it's size, struggling to keep up with its voracious appetite.

Red-chested cuckoo juvenile being fed by a Karoo thrush host, Modimolle, South Africa. [photo Warwick Tarboton ©]



  1. Very informative!! Thanks Maree. Glad your swallows are back!

  2. Just the opposite here as our Swallows have left for warmer climates.

    1. Yep, wish I could ring mine and then ask somebody on the "other side" to keep an eye open for them!



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