Inkonjane Points the Way to Summer The swallows are beginning to return to us, in the case of the Greater Striped Swallow, from their long journey from Central Africa where they have spent our winter period.

There are several species of swallow some of which travel all the way from here to Central Europe. One wonders what sort of advanced technology these small birds have to find their way over such long hazardous journeys and return unerringly to their previous nesting sites. We would love to have them nesting under the eaves of our house, but each year their building gets just so far and then collapses, regrettably.

Inkonjany is the Zulu word for a swallow and means he who points the way The swallow, and other migrants, is regarded by the Zulu people as a symbol of ‘effort’ and ‘hard work’ as well as of ‘unity’, because you will see these birds gather together in large groups as they come and go. They must plan their travels very carefully to be sure they reach their homes.

The name Inkonjany means the little pointer (komba: to point) because she points the way to summer. It is said that if you see a lot of swallows in the sky it means that the summer and the harvest will be very good. Most migrants fly by day and roost at night during which time they feed.Swallows, however, feed on flying insects, and so they fly and feed by day resting at night.

There are, of course, other migrants that have come back to spend the summer in this beautiful area of Clarens. One of the first to arrive is the red-chested cuckoo with his distinctive piet-my-vrou call. But you will be very fortunate if you catch sight of him. We have heard the plaintive de-dee-deederik call of Diederik Cuckoo as well as Klaas’s cuckoo calling out meitjie, meitjie.

Author: Craig Walters

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