A little while back I reported on a White-backed Swallow nest/roost on the Loddon River. Over the weekend I made a couple of early starts to see if the site was still active. On Saturday morning I ventured down at around 8am hoping to photograph something interesting. Carefully positioning myself below the tunnel I waited quietly. Two swallows duly left at about 8.15am – of course I was too slow to photograph them, distracted by the begging calls of the Sacred Kingfishers nearby. Thinking that was all to see, I clambered back up the bank, only to be passed by another two swallows and moments later three more, making a total of seven sharing the same venue! I was luckier the following morning, capturing shots of two individuals leaving the site.
Reading up on the habits of this species, I was intrigued by one report (Waterman & Llewellyn 1968), of 18 juveniles roosting in a tunnel with a pair of Rainbow Bee-eaters and four nestlings; 3 nights later the tunnel only contained Rainbow Bee-eaters, but another tunnel, 1.2 m away, had 27 Swallows, including five that had been banded previously in the Bee-eater’s tunnel! They are a remarkable species indeed.
Reference: Waterman, M.H. & L.C. Llewellyn. 1968. Australian Bird Bander 6: 8-9 cited in HANZAB Volume 7, part B.