I always enjoy watching swallows’ aerobatics, as they swoop, swerve and soar in pursuit of their next meal. What I hadn’t realised until I looked at some photos I had taken was that despite their agility, swallows are quite dumpy little birds, at least from certain angles.
Two more views.
The stockiness makes sense, in that they need strong wing muscles to pull off steep turns like this one in pursuit of insects:
And they certainly catch enough – this one has just lined up its next snack:
While this one has successfully jinked up to catch whatever’s in its beak.
Then it’s off to catch the next one:
The blue skies show that the previous photos were all taken before Sydney’s skies filled with smoke. In contrast the image below was taken 3 days ago, with the swallow silhouetted against smoke-diffused sunlight.
For me, the swallows are most entertaining when they fly low, looking for insects rising from the grass:
The low altitude makes them appear even faster, and viewing them from above allows the sunlight to highlight their blue iridescence.
Over-exposure gives interesting effects.
Sometimes the swallows fly in small groups or pairs:
This allows them to perform a classic from aerobatic team displays – the low-level crossover:
And one final in-flight activity - feeding the offspring!
The birds in the photographs are all Welcome Swallows (Hirundo neoxena). I’ve written about them before.
They look very similar to the Barn Swallows (Hirundo rustica) of the northern hemisphere, which sometimes penetrate into northern Australia in their annual migrations. Some Welcome Swallows over-winter around North Sydney, whilst others are partially migratory.