restricted access Swallows
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Barn Swallow L: 19 cm (7·5") This common migrant swallow has long tail streamers, plain cream-white underparts, a broad dark collar, rusty-chestnut throat patch and white spots across the spread tail . Immatures are duller than adults and have shorter tail streamers . The Barn Swallow is an abundant non-breeding visitor (September–May) from Eurasia to all parts of Kruger . It is only likely to be confused with the Wire-tailed Swallow (page 206), which differs in having a white throat and an extensive chestnut cap . Its flight action is strong and fluid and large groups may gather to forage on aerial insects; it also forms large flocks in March and April before departing for the breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere . Red-breasted Swallow L: 20–24 cm (8–9") A large swallow with brick-red underparts and dark blue upperparts, told from other swallows by its metallic-blue ‘drooping’ ear patches . In flight its buffy underwing coverts differentiate it from the Mosque Swallow, which has white underwing coverts and a pale throat . The flight action is strong, with frequent swoops and changes of course . This is a common intra-African breeding migrant (August–March) in Kruger . It is most frequently encountered in the south of the park, becoming increasingly uncommon towards the far northern parts, where it is largely replaced by Mosque Swallow . Mosque Swallow L: 22–26 cm (9–10") This large swallow has rusty-red underparts, a pale buff throat, and white underwing coverts that are obvious only in flight . It may be confused with juvenile Red-breasted Swallows, which have a pale throat, but that species always has dark ear patches and buffy underwing coverts . Although it is resident throughout Kruger, the Mosque Swallow is rare in the far south and fairly common only north of Shingwedzi, where its preferred breeding sites, cavities in large baobabs, become more frequent . Swallows: 1 red-breasted swallow 204 BIRDS OF THE AIR mosque swallow barn swallow red-breasted swallow mosque swallow barn swallow 205 Wire-tailed Swallow L: 14 cm (5·5") A small, delicate swallow with dark blue upperparts and plain white underparts, including the throat, and a neat chestnut cap extending from the bill to the nape . Adults have long, fine tail streamers, whereas these are lacking in immature birds, which are also browner . The flight action is weak and fluttering, often changing course . The much rarer White-throated Swallow (not illustrated) is similar but has a complete collar and the rust on the crown is restricted to the forehead . The Wire-tailed Swallow is a common resident throughout Kruger, where it is most often seen feeding over wetlands, and frequently nests under bridges, even during the winter months (June–August) . Lesser Striped-Swallow L: 15–19 cm (6–7·5") A distinctive burnt-orange skullcap extending onto the cheeks like a helmet, and boldly streaked underparts characterize this swallow . The similar but larger Greater StripedSwallow (not illustrated) is much rarer in Kruger, and has fewer and finer streaks, especially on the throat and ears, giving it a more open-faced appearance . The Lesser Striped-Swallow has a strong flight action, much like that of Barn Swallow, and is a common intra-African breeding migrant (August–April) to Kruger, although some overwinter . It appears to favour man-made structures as breeding sites, which may have aided its spread into the region . Rock Martin L: 15 cm (6") A dumpy-bodied, square-tailed dark brown swallow with a pale cinnamon throat and diagnostic white spots in the tail . This species is an uncommon and very local resident in Kruger, preferring rocky gorges and cliffs, where it breeds . It often joins other swallows and swifts when feeding, and may be attracted to bush fires . The flight is quite strong but fluttering, with frequent changes in course . Swallows: 2 wire-tailed swallow lesser striped-swallow rock martin 206 BIRDS OF THE AIR wire-tailed swallow lesser striped-swallow rock martin 207 ...