A very large flock of Barn Swallows (formerly named European Swallows) have chosen to roost in the reed-beds of Umkobi lagoon In the summer months (October to April), about 45 minutes before sunset, hundreds of thousands of swallows get ready for bed. The sight is nothing short of spectacular even to those who are not regular bird-watchers.
There are different schools of thought regarding the solid, non-stop, 24-hours a day, migration of the barn swallow. Some think that they sleep on the wing. Others believe that one half of the brain sleeps whilst the other half attends to the business of continuous flight and feeding.
Where do they go to? How long does it take them to get there?
Andy Pickles, bird fundi of the Hibiscus Coast, managed to ring 300 barn swallows last year in an effort to find out where they spend our winter months. To date, none of his birds have been clocked in. But, a barn swallow from Umhlanga Rocks holds the record for the fastest migration known - it took only 27 days from ringing to recapture in Whitley Bay in England.
The birds don't breed in South Africa and don't build nests. They simply roost, as many as eight to a stalk, depending on the reed's strength. Easily done when one weighs less than 20 grams!
Good vantage points are Umkobi Beach, the patio of the Trattoria restaurant, the lagoon shores of Marina Beach, or a friend's residence in Lower Milkwood or Umkobi lodge.
Don't miss out. Be sure to make time for this eco-outing.
Also, print Southbroom Conservancy's BIRD LIST -
the village boasts numerous twitching inhabitants!