Welcome Swallows

To: chatline <>
Subject: Welcome Swallows
From: Michael Lenz <>
Date: Sat, 29 Feb 2020 10:25:14 +0000
About a fortnight ago I made the following statement on the chatline (as part of a comment on Red Wattlebirds):
To me it is also of interest that another group of birds has recently departed, Welcome Swallow and Martins, only small numbers have stayed.  
Only to see still groups of varying sizes of Welcome Swallows over following days including about 80 yesterday over the sewage ponds.

So, it was time to check how many swallows are still roosting under the Eyre Street Bridge at Kingston Harbour/Norgrove Park (see also my article on this roost site in CBN 43(3), 2018: 236-251). 

I did the count this morning (29 Feb): 803 Welcome Swallows departed from the roost. Certainly many swallows!

Now lets put the figure into perspective. In 2016 and 2017 numbers at this time of year were in the range of 1600 to 1800, so double or more of today's figure.. And in the drought year of 2018 also around just 800 birds were recorded. Such low figures probably indicate a poor breeding season.

Groups that were departing today ranged in size from 1 to just 24.  Eighty two percent of all departing groups were in the size range of 1 to 10 birds, with sizes of 1-3 birds making up 46% of all groups. 

Nearly 60% of the 803 birds left as groups of  just 1 to 10 birds. 

One Australian Hobby tried several times to catch a departing Welcome Swallow. But it had a 'handicap' of about 180 m from his observation point to where the swallows were departing. The hobby was not successful although it appeared in no time just behind some departing groups of swallows, but still not fast enough, giving the swallows time to rise up high and escape. 

Also, one local resident pointed out to me that a pair of Black Swans had built a nest UNDER the bridge. During the recent storms much plant debris had washed up against a wire barrier on the Norgrove Park side of the bridge. The swans had more than enough material to build their nest.

Michael Lenz
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