WELCOME SWALLOW (Hirundo neoxena)

Sometimes you get lucky with bird photography and sometimes not.

On 31st January this year (2018), I got very lucky on a brief walk down to the local Maribyrnong River to shoot some photos in the Golden Hour.  I was actually wanting to photograph the setting sun and maybe catch some silhouettes as I faced west, but the image below, taken during the golden hour, gives you a sense of the lovely light and shade that can be captured  over the river itself.

It’s probably a brisk 6-7 minute walk to the river, but having to walk slowly and being totally obsessed with stopping and looking around me, means even the shortest walk can take 20, 30 or even 40 minutes 🙂

Once at the river cycling/walking path, it can take even longer to decide whether to walk upriver or downriver 😀 if I was keen on a longer afternoon walk.

But on this summer day, I just stayed around the end of the artificial canal beside Frogs Hollow and the Nature Reserve, waiting for the right moment to catch the suns rays as it dipped behind the horizon in the west.

The canal is mostly hidden by 7-8 foot high water reeds and its only by standing at the top of the slope about 20 feet higher that you can actually see the water.

It was one of those occasions when I was glad I nearly always have my lens cap off when I’m outdoors and depending on where I am, I also have my camera in my hand, not over my shoulder.

Most birds don’t stand around waiting for a photo shoot.

Welcome Swallow (Hirundo neoxena) landed on the small iron railing fence between the canal and the walking path.  (A pipe takes the water under the path and drains out into the river I presume).

It’s only about the 3rd or 4th time I’ve seen a Welcome Swallow despite them being very common, both inland and on coastal regions of Australia.

WELCOME SWALLOW (Hirundo neoxena)

The adult and immature are a dark glossy blue-black over much of the underparts, with white spots around the margin of a deeply forked tail and very conspicuous in flight (I probably had the white balance setting on Auto which makes the bird in these photos look more grey).  The underparts are white, with face, throat and upper breast a rich chestnut.

WELCOME SWALLOW (Hirundo neoxena)

Tail streamers are very long in the male and shorter in the female and immature, which are also generally duller.  It has a really fast swooping flight, so while recognisable by their tail, I’ve never been able to photograph them in the air.

Their call is a sharp ‘chep’ sound.  While common, they avoid dense forested areas or really arid parts of central Australia.


Here’s a couple of photos I took in 2011 in the Royal Botanic Gardens on a sunny day which shows their colour much better.  This was before I had a long 150-500mm lens I might add.  My one and only telephoto lens was a 18-200mm lens back then.