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2012 - 2013 Season

05 January 2013 -
Well the first chance to ring swallows this year and I managed to catch another 41 birds bringing the season total to 522 birds, I will unfortunately be away for a few weeks visiting the Kruger Park so this could be it until next month. I was lucky to catch my first ever Common House Martin, in fact not 1 but 3 of them were caught, all of them immature birds. It was nice to see them so close and the feathers on the legs is remarkable.

immature House Martin

The legs on the House Martin

30 December 2012 - My last Swallow ringing for 2012 proved to be a good one, unfortunately no recaptures but 65 Barn Swallows were ringed bringing the total for the season to date up to 481 birds. I am still recording colour variances in the birds and 1 interesting point I have noticed is that the "pale red and reddish" birds moult pattern is different to the others. Where the Whiter bellied birds tend to take their time  over moulting by starting on arrival and taking the whole season to moult all 9 primary flight feathers, The "redder" bellied birds tend to start later in the season and are already past the stage of the "whiter" birds. Also some of the "redder" birds are smaller and lighter than others.

29 December 2012 - Strong winds blowing from the north today but still managed to catch 45 Barn Swallows. Good numbers of swallows are around, there is no doubt that we still have well over 1 million birds, and they are still using the alternative smaller roost that was not affected by the floods.

23 December 2012 - Nice calm evening so it was swallow time again, I didn't expect too much as despite very little wind there was no clouds so this generally means that the majority of the swallows will be high. While I was putting up the nets a Eurasian Hobby flew centimeters above my head, if the nets were up he would have been caught. I managed to get and ring another 37 Barn Swallows so I was happy with that, after a bad few weeks with the rain and floods things are back on track.

16 December 2012 - What a great evening another 64 Barn Swallows caught and ringed, it could have been a lot more but I don't want to take on too much due to having an open general ringing session the next morning. Some of the Swallows decided to to "wind me up" by sitting on top of the nets, but still I was happy.

Swallows sitting on top of the nets, with some already caught

15 December 2012 - Good news is that I have found a new ringing spot after the floods, I managed to catch 46 Barn Swallows today and 1 Little Swift. It sure is a good feeling to be able to catch Barn Swallows again after a 2.5 week break due to the rain and the floods. During this time I have tried to catch at home but it has been a battle and I only managed 15 Birds.

27 November 2012 - Better conditions than yesterday but the swallows still came in late and high but at least I was able to get my best catch of the season with 50 birds. Still no foreign recaptures.

This 1yr old bird had moulted one side of its tail feathers at once and the other side was still intact,
possibly the result of a raptor after his supper, and the very agile swallow being lucky to only loose some feathers

26 November 2012 - Looked like great weather conditions today, no wind and clear skies with no threat of rain, this resulted in the swallows arriving late and a poor catch of only 15 birds.

23 November 2012 - A good day today and I had to limit it to 36 birds. Hugh numbers of swallows at the roost, this could be our best season yet.

20 November 2012 - A bit of wind blowing but the swallows were low today enabling me to catch 35 swallows.

17 November 2012 - Strong winds blowing from the south but as my site is semi protected from the south we gave it a chance and managed to catch 30 swallows before the rain started. We did stay to watch the swallows at the roost and I estimate that there were in excess of 1 million birds coming in to roost for the evening. I expect this to be a good season for numbers at the roost, especially as birds are still coming south to us. The vast majority of birds still have to start their primary moult which gives an indication that a lot birds have arrived recently, while others are up to the 3rd primary feather already.

16 November 2012 - At last the rain has stopped for a while (I hope) and for the first time this season I have been able to get down to the roost to catch Barn Swallows. The road is very muddy and I was worried about getting stuck so I didn't stay too long, but I did manage to catch a quick 36 birds it would have been a lot more if I had left the nets up. Most of the birds were between 1 and 2 years of age which I would expect at this time of the season, there were a few adult birds which as it happens were all male's, and of course quite a few first year birds. The numbers are good at the roost and with birds still leaving southern Europe now we should have a good season.

13 October 2012
- Great news I have just recorded my first Barn Swallows of the season. whilst out walking on the farm I saw a few Lesser-striped Swallows flying around and feeding, while taking photos of these a Barn swallow flew into frame. there was only a few Barn Swallows flying around but this is now the start of the season for me.