The majestic Barn Swallows are back

Shannon Hopkins
October 29, 2015
38 Shares 1579 Views

The Barn Swallows arrive at Mount Moreland just outside Umdloti every spring in numbers swelling to the millions by early November.

 

The phenomenon attracts visitors from far and wide, who come to witness the mass evening swallow display half an hour before sunset, before the birds descend into the reedbed roost for the night with a sudden hush.

 

The birds will be officially welcomed back with a public viewing on 8 November 2015.

 

This spectacle, which can be seen from November to April, has become a world wide attraction and recognised as a Natural Wonder and Global Treasure.

 

The Barn Swallow (European Swallow) is not an endangered species. In fact it is currently plentiful. Why then does this little bird receive so much attention?

 

It is because the Swallow has an extraordinary lifestyle, eating and drinking on the wing – a lifestyle that takes it thousands of kilometres across the globe during migration and which brings it in close contact with humans during the spring and summer months.

 

It is said that the Barn Swallow thus enjoys a perpetual summer.

 

The Barn Swallow is also referred to as the ‘rain bird’ as they arrive with the spring rains after the dry winter.

 

In South Africa, as spring arrives in September, the migratory European Swallows/Barn swallows (Hirundo rustica) start to appear. At Mount Moreland, South Africa’s largest Barn Swallow Site Icon roosting grounds, the initial small flocks swell to thousands and then millions of Swallows.

 

By November up to 3 million Barn Swallows can be seen every evening over the Lake Victoria wetland roost until April.

 

Evening displays differ widely during the Swallow season depending on weather, wind, degree of light and insects. An overcast sky can offer as equally spectacular displays as an evening sky with a picturesque sunset.

 

The reedbed roost site the Swallows have chosen is a wetland, locally known as the Lake Victoria Wetland, it is covered with indigenous Phragmities reeds. The Barn Swallows at Mount Moreland and their roosting habitat are now recognised as a world famous site and IBA (International Birding Area).

 

Visitors are welcome to visit the viewing site in the last week in October but the best viewing months are November and March, during the Barn Swallow migration.

 

Visitors need to come half an hour before sunset, check the Map for directions. Bring your own chairs, sun-downers, picnic, binoculars and anti-mozzie cream.

A R10 per person fee is charged on entrance. Barn Swallow mementos and information booklets are on sale at the main table. There are no food or drinks available at the site.

 

The Barn Swallow viewing site is open every day during the Swallow season weather permitting.

 

  • The Mount Moreland Conservancy is the organisation behind all this.

Over the past years through dedication, passion and commitment to the Barn Swallows and their reedbed home much has been achieved, recognised, shared and discovered and will continue with your support in helping to ensure the well being of the Barn Swallows now and into the future.Thank you to all those that have supported/sponsored/donated and come to witness and experience this truly amazing phenomenon.

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