History – Barn Swallow Viewing Sites
From as far back as the 1970’s the Barn Swallows have been recognized and noted for the mass evening displays at Mount Moreland but it was through local residents and the formation of the Mount Moreland Conservancy that the Barn Swallows were drawn into the spotlight.
In the 1990’s the Mount Moreland Conservancy began an annual event called ‘The return of the swallows’ and over many years of trial and error this event became more recognized and supported.
Creating more interest and awareness through faster modern methods of communication, email , local media and website proved extremely successful.
By 2005 the number of swallow watchers coming to Mount Moreland had noticeably increased and people were arriving throughout the six month occurrence and there was a craving for more knowledge, a better viewing spot etc.
Founder member and chairperson of the Mount Moreland Conservancy Angie Wilken had a vision to develop a formal Barn Swallow viewing site at Mount Moreland. A plan was designed and formulated and presented to Tongaat Hulett, the owners of the Lake Victoria wetland.
History – Lake Victoria Viewing Site
Mr Prem Gurney, manager of Umdloti estate, in consultation with Mr Paul Russell, Tongaat Hulett regional manager, Agriculture, welcomed the proposal and events became more formalized by 2006. Land was identified and earmarked, a lease drafted and signed, clearing of land, landscaping and terracing began in earnest. Signage and information boards designed and erected.
A partnership was formed between Tongaat Huletts, Airports Company South Africa, Birdlife and the Mount Moreland Conservancy.
The official opening of the Lake Victoria Barn Swallow Viewing site was 12 November 2006. The occasion was celebrated in fine style attracting over 800 people. The viewing site was open every evening thereafter for the six month Barn Swallow season and proved to be a tourist attraction of note.
In 2007 another 1800m² of land was added to the viewing site and terraced accordingly to accommodate the vast numbers of people coming to witness this event.
In 2014 the Barn Swallow viewing site, Lake Victoria wetland, surrounding farmlands and 50% of properties within Mount Moreland was purchased by Dube Tradeport. A partnership was formed between Dube Tradeport and the Mount Moreland Conservancy and the existing lease extended to incorporate the Gazebo Park, an area that has been managed and maintained by the Conservancy for over 20 years.
Maintenance and improvements are ongoing through an entrance fee to the viewing site.
History – Froggy Pond Viewing Site
The need for a second viewing site emerged when the Barn Swallows failed to roost at Lake Victoria 2010/2011 season due to the reedbed rehabilitating itself. This caused much upset and disappointment with swallow watchers not seeing the usual evening display over Lake Victoria.
Every evening thereafter I would lead a convoy of spectators in their cars around the corner and once all had re-parked we would view the swallows from the street as this was the only available option, a Barn Swallow viewing street part. I would joke with the swallow watchers who were very appreciative of the efforts, PR and overall execution of this plan. It worked: everyone thoroughly enjoyed this ‘Swallow Experience’.
Airports Company South Africa (ACSA) owners of the Froggy Pond reedbed and surrounding land, Mr Colin Naidoo was presented with a draft proposal for a Barn Swallow viewing site at Froggy Pond January 2011 from the Mount Moreland Conservancy, this was received favorably. Work began with the removal of alien vegetation, thereafter came the terracing, signage and rehabilitation.
Work is ongoing with constant improvements on the indigenous gardens and surrounding bush.
The Froggy Pond Viewing Site has become a popular venue not just for bid watching but also for private functions. If you would like to book the site for a special event please CONTACT US for more information and pricing.