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29 Jan, 2023
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flight feeding frenzy

Flight Feeding Frenzy! – Article by Gareth Jones


Early one morning after some good rain, I drove past junction No4A parallel to the stream. Suddenly I observed a lot of activity near the side of the road. I approached slowly and stopped next to an opened termite mound. Wow! what a sight, thousands and thousands of termites (incorrectly called flying ants) were flying out of the termite mound in search of a new territory. However, the action of the flying termites was also a major attraction to many bird species, as they swooped in their hundreds and hundreds, in a flight feeding frenzy. I sat fascinated for a few minutes, and then quickly grabbed my camera to try and capture some of the moods of the moment.

Red-rumped swallows were very abundant as they swooped repeatedly at high speed. I noticed a young swallow sitting on a low branch of a shrub, as I watched an adult swallow amazingly fed the young bird at speed while in flight. So I decided to try and capture this speed feed moment and waited in the hope that the adult parent swallow would repeat the feed. After a short wait, I saw a swallow swooping at high speed towards the branch and took a rapid series of photos. I was very grateful and joyful when I saw that a few images of the speed feed had been captured as if in a split second frozen moments. Camera technology can capture speed moments that the human eye cannot see in fine detail.

The red-rumped swallow (Cecropis daurica) is a small passerine bird in the swallow family. They breed in the open hilly country of temperate southern Europe and Asia from Portugal and Spain to Japan, India, Sri Lanka and tropical Africa. The Indian and African birds are resident but European and other Asian birds are migratory.

Red-rumped swallows are somewhat similar in habits and appearance to the other aerial insectivores, such as the related swallows and the unrelated swifts (order Apodiformes). They have blue upperparts and dusky underparts. They resemble barn swallows, but are darker below and have pale or reddish rumps, face and neck collar. They lack a breast band but have black under tails. They are fast fliers and they swoop on insects while airborne. They have broad but pointed wings. These swallows build quarter-sphere nests with a tunnel entrance lined with mud collected in their beaks and lay 3 to 6 eggs. They normally nest under cliff overhangs in their mountain homes, but will readily adapt to buildings and bridges.

They do not normally form large breeding colonies, but are gregarious outside the breeding season. These swallows are usually found over grassland where they catch insects. They may sometimes take advantage of grass fires and grazing herbivores that flush insects into the air.

I always find it a joy to see birds in the park, God has created such amazing diversity and that includes our feathered friends. The Nairobi National Park is a very unique place, that at times reveals some incredible sightings.

The park is open daily from 06h00 to 19h00



flight feeding frenzyGareth Jones – A passionate wildlife conservationist, writer & photographer


  • stevedaly697

    November 14, 2019

    Fabulous capture Gareth, with the youngster sharp, but the blur of the parent’s wings conveying the speed and movement of the moment.

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