MAGICAL SWALLOW SUNSET          - 7/2/2012      <--Prev : Next-->

Click on a thumbnail to see the full sized picture:

Barn Swallows Binga - Kulizwe Lodge Harbour Barn Swallows Dec 2011

It was one of those amazingly magical evenings that one can only have on Lake Kariba. The day s fishing had been good and the ride home on the boat was glorious. The lake was as calm as a mill pond and the sunset stretched before us like a panacea of gold.

As we drew into the Crocodile Farm / Kulizwe Lodge harbour something however was exceedingly different to our usual landings.

There was the strangest noise, a kind of buzzing, humming, swirling and chirping combined and the air was thick with wing beat and bustle.

Giant clouds filled with tiny black shadows and silhouettes bent and twisted in the still evening air, like those clouds of locusts one would see in the bad old days, or even more like those ugly destructive thunderclouds of queleas we had in the fifties.

Except this was different, they were defining clouds but friendly clouds, giant clouds of swallows, dipping and shifting in magnificently co-ordinated swirls, and then landing in the dense rushes at the edge of the harbour.

Every so often one would see a larger silhouette, possibly a bird of prey, mouth wide open in glee !

Looking up against the silver and gold evening sky one could see dense layer upon dense layer, almost as if "waiting in the wings", hundreds of thousands of possibly Barn Swallows, just like those multitudinous swallows we had seen previously at How Mine.

The bullrushes at the edge of the lake were already heavy with the tiny birds, bending over like reed bows in the sheer weight of hundreds of tiny swallows.

We could not be sure they were Barn Swallows but they were certainly a variety of swallow, the light was not good enough to identify them, and they moved so fast into the darkness of the reeds.

Silhouetted against the setting sun, the reed bed looked like a giant forest of corn with tiny ears, swaying in the wind, each tiny quivering swallow patiently finding his resting place for the night.

The noise was deafening, shrill, dense and non-stop for some forty minutes before they had all managed to land and settle amicably in the safety of the bullrushes. The bickering and bellyaching over and each one s position was secured, peace reigned at last.

Were they massing ready to migrate north for the winter? Surely it was too early, it was after all Christmas Eve, just after the longest day of the year in the Southern Hemisphere?

We asked some of the locals and they said the phenomena had occurred for a couple of years now, always at this time of the year, always in this very harbour.

If they were migrating, how much sleep would they garner from clinging desperately to the weaving rushes all night long?. How much energy would they harvest for their journey of thousands of kilometres?

At least the Barn Swallows at How Mine were sensible enough to find a solid branch on which to roost comfortably preparing for their incredible journey!

What an absolute delight it was to witness one of the many wonderful mysteries of nature in the making.

See the photos posted on the Mirror Website