Mount Moreland

Barn Swallows First Recapture

Notification of the first ever recapture of a barn swallow from Mt Moreland, KZN South Africa has just been received.Barn Swallow ringing

Today, 3 May, 2010, the Mount Moreland Conservancy’s sponsored ringer, Andrew Pickles, received an email from SAFRING, South Africa’s national bird ringing data centre, that a barn swallow ringed by him at the Mt Moreland Roost, ring number AM94463, on Friday 12 December 2008 has been found dead in Ukraine. It was found on 1 May 2010 by a Ukrainian teacher, Victor, at a town called Kirovograd just south of Chenobyl. This is a distance 8691 kilometers from Mt Moreland. It is 505 days since it was ringed in 2008 when it was logged as a juvenile male weighing 20grams. This means in all likelihood that it has revisited Mt Moreland since it was ringed and was in the process of returning home to breed.

This recapture is exciting in many ways. Not only is swallow, AM94463, the first swallow from the Mt Moreland Roost to be recaptured but records show it was ringed only the day before the Pickles  team caught  the very first ringed swallow ever captured at Mt Moreland. That swallow 136952V was captured on Saturday 13 December, 2008 – the same weekend.  It was 6 month old, weighed 17grams and came 10 327 kilometers  from  Nilsia in Finland. Thanks to Birdlife International it made news around the World.

These two records give rise to an interesting question…was this latest swallow, AM94463, actually from the Ukraine or was it on its way to Finland?  It is the migration season and Finland still awaits its swallows so the answer could be either.

Yet a further ‘date’ coincidence is that swallow AM94463 was found on the day, May 1st, that Durban’s new greenfields King Shaka International Airport, only 2.6 kilometers north of the Mt Moreland Roost, opened. Airports Company South Africa has, working with the Lake Victoria Conservancy and BirdlifeSA, put in various safeguards to protect the millions of barn swallows when they return to their roost in October 2010. It is hoped these work and the swallows will continue to use the Mt Moreland Roost, the largest in South Africa, throughout the coming season from October 2010 to April 2011.

However, there was great excitement on 13 December 2008 when our ringing efforts were repaid tenfold.

Through the services of SAFRING we knew within a few days that the bird, number 136952V, was ringed as a nestling bird on a farm near Nilsia in Finland. The farm owner had ringed it while still in the nest on 23 July 2008. At about 3 months of age it had flown a straight line distance of more than 10 300 kilometers to reach Mt Moreland.  

Since this has been written the swallows have been back to Europe and returned yet again to South Africa with the very first arrival being logged by Ted in late September 2009. This is the last swallow season without aeroplanes thundering overhead. The 1 May 2010, when The King Shaka International Airport opens, creeps ever closer. The runway is only 2.6 kilometers north of the roost and the flight path skims across the lower end of the Roost. Although there are concerns for the many bird species that use the coastal corridor on which the airport is situated, the main threat identified as far as the Barn Swallows are concerned will come from low incoming planes in the evenings at the same time as the swallows return to roost.

Barn Swallow ringed
Andrew Pickles Barn Swallow Ringing
Barn Swallow recapture
Andrew and Ivan ringing Barn Swallows

22 October 2015 – one of my Umzumbe birds ringed at my first session for the season on 02.11.2012 was recaptured in Hungary at a known migration spot on the 26.09.2015. I ringed the bird as a bird of less than 6 months of age. I have contacted the ringer who’s English is very poor, but he tells me at this time of the year all their local birds had left so the bird was coming from further north.
regards Andrew

20 October 2015 – British Trust for Ornithology The Nunnery, Thetford – I’m not sure whether you received a copy of this report. Thank you very much for passing the information to us last February.
You have some recoveries of birds which you have ringed. Please click on the link(s) below to read them.

Best wishes
Dorian Moss
Ringing Database Officer