Welcome Swallows

To: birding-aus <>
Subject: Welcome Swallows
From: jenny spry <>
Date: Mon, 8 Jul 2013 12:31:26 +1000
Hi all,

After my posting last week I got some replies about Welcome Swallows taking
prey from below the surface of water. One email was from Mandy King in
Warrnambool who sent me photos of swallows feeding in this manner. They
were taking prey from a pool in an ephemeral wetland just west of
Warrnambool. The photos were taken in the first week of August 2007.

Brian Johnston sent me photos of swallows feeding from the same pool I saw
them in at the WTP, Werribee. His photos were taken on 30th June 2012 and
mine on 17 July 2012. This means that a food source of insect larvae was
available from the pool for more than 2 weeks and that the swallows were
feeding on it for at least that long.

Brian’s photos show the swallow using the same head swinging movement as
seen in my photo. Brian suggested that this swing of the head, of nearly
180º, is part of the food capture movement and I agree it may be a method
of quickly getting the prey clear of the water. It may also be a method of
clearing water from the mouth, or both suggestions may be correct.

Since I put the blog up Tim Bawden has sent me an email saying: "....  I
took the time to watch some swallows at a wetlands near Dandenong on the
weekend taking subsurface prey (wrigglers I think) just as you describe -
clearly visible through binoculars while sitting on the bank around 5
meters away. Thanks for pointing it out - probably never would have paid it
much thought just thinking they were drinking." Again, this sighting is
from a near-coastal area of Victoria. So, are we maybe looking at Tasmanian
Welcome Swallows with their own unique feeding method or are birds from
somewhere north of coastal Victoria also feeding in this manner?

This means I so far have five reports from late June to early August. Two
reports are from 2007, two from 2012 and one from 2013. As it is early July
swallows should now be feeding in this manner along the Victorian coast,
and perhaps elsewhere. Please keep a watch on flocks of swallows in your
local patch, and elsewhere.

I have put up a new blog showing Mandy and Brian's photos.



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