Monday, 4 February 2013


Sitting and chatting on the Brown’s stoep with the family one night, we all watched as small flocks of Barn Swallows, Hirundo rustica, flew overhead, off to settle in for the night in their roosting spot. After a comment from Mark about how he would love to find their roosting spot to be able to catch the swallows, Dad and Mark were suddenly off on a mission: Find the roost! They returned surprisingly quickly. The roost was not far off, in a reed bed, which had a convenient boardwalk through it, perfect for mistnets! Plans were hatched and the next evening found the entire Brown and Witteveen clans at the boardwalk. Nets were erected, and immediately we starting catching birds, one of the first being a Cape White-eye, Zosterops virens, a species that has a special place in my heart after using them as a study species for both my 3rd year and Honours projects. With the nets open sometime before dusk, we caught a few flocks of Cape Weavers, Ploceus capensis, most of which were juveniles, as well as a few Cape Bulbuls, Pycnonotus capensis, a new species for me (Stoked!) and a juvenile Black-bellied Starling, Notopholia corruscus, among others.

And slowly the swallows started circling in the sky. If you haven’t had the opportunity to see this, it is well worth the time to go to a Barn Swallow roost and be a spectator! Large flocks circle in the sky, and smaller groups break off and dive down to the roost, in this case the reeds. It is truly amazing! We caught 31 swallows that night, and have since been again and aim to continue to go once a week for the next few weeks. Hopefully we will get a bird with a foreign ring! But to be out and bird ringing, and to start learning my birds of the Western Cape, is awesome!

Nets up on the boardwalk.
Juvenile Black-bellied Starling, Notopholia corruscus.
Cape Bulbul, Pycnonotus capensis.

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