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Floods Affect the Umzumbe Roost

The KZN South Coast has been receiving an unprecedented amount of rainfall in the second half of this year. Since the beginning of September until the morning of the 11th December we have received in excess of 1m of rainfall, considering that the Barn Swallows start to arrive back here midway through September, they have been here for the vast majority of the time.

 


The Umzumbe River in flood at 05h30

The roost is adjacent to the Umzumbe River but not attached to it, this allows the reedbed the luxury of not being affected by the river, until the evening of the 10th December when we received in excess of 100mm of rain between 19h30 and 02h00, in addition to this the amount of rainfall in the catchment area was also very high. The river has come down in flood and burst its banks, so much so that it has actually reached the roost.

 


The Roost after the water has subsided, the reeds on the far
side of the river have been totally flattened by the force of the
water. Patches in the reeds at the roost show large water levels.

Only time will tell now how much the swallows have been affected by all of this, did the swallows manage to take flight in time to avoid the high and fast flowing water or did they know this was going to happen as they have been known to do before, leave the area temporarily to avoid any disaster. I did have a few swallows flying over the house on their way to the roost yesterday evening (11th December) so here’s hoping that all will be well.

 

I will have to monitor the roost over the next week or two and see if anything has happened.



A dead fish in a Sugarcane Loading Zone, 5m above the river banks


Update on the Roost 17 December 2012

After a few days of no rain and good sunshine I decided to investigate the roost and see what has happened with the swallows. I am pleased to say that the news is better than expected and the numbers at the roost is still about the 1.5 million  number, so we may have lost some birds but it could have been worse. I have located a new ringing spot for the ringing and after 2 visits I can report that I caught 105 birds, so my work can now continue. The Swallows are now using the old roost (what is left of it) and the balance are flying an additional 200m to a smaller reedbed that for some reason escaped the floods. So the swallows are still here.