My time Ringing at Mt. Moreland

During the Swallow seasons from the 2006/07 to  2010/11, I was doing monthly ringing at the Mt Moreland Swallow Roost just north of Durban to learn more about their movements due largely to the pending King Shaka Airport. It was felt that we needed to learn as much as possible prior to the opening of the airport in May 2010. After the Airport opened we visited the site in November and December of 2010 and noticed the skittish behavior of the swallows whenever an aeroplane flew over, this prompted me to think twice about ringing at the site as the swallows seemed to panic and let out an alarm call and then fly out parallel with the ground in all directions, even the swallows that had roosted flew away again, the impact of this would mean that a lot of the birds would fly into the mist nets which would be good for the ringing, however the problem would be that the birds were already stressed from the noise and turbulence of the planes and to interfere more with them could cause more harm than good. As it turns out the Swallows left the roost later in December 2010 and for the rest of the season have been playing games with the interested swallow watchers who regularly visit of an evening to view the spectacle, the swallows would roost in the smaller reedbed on some evenings and then on some evenings would not roost there at all, only time will tell if the birds and the airport can coexist in harmony.

In total about 1500 birds were ringed at the site and hopefully over the next few years we may get some feedback from these birds as they migrate between Europe and Southern Africa. We have however had two swallows that we know their European connections, The first being an immature bird that was ringed in

Nilsia, Finland on 23rd July 2008 as a nestling bird and was recaptured on 13th December 2008. This means that at about 3 months of age it had flown a straight-line distance of more than 10 300km to reach Mt Moreland. The second bird was ringed at Mt.Moreland on 12th December 2008 and found dead in the Ukraine on 1st May 2010. A few interesting things about this bird are that we don’t know for sure if the bird had reached it’s breeding site as it is still within the migration window, secondly the date it was found is the day that the King Shaka Airport opened for the first time, hopefully this was not meant to be an omen.