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Welcoming Welcome Swallows
Rosemary Cole
/ Categories: In the Valley

Welcoming Welcome Swallows

Skipper Chris' secret warou nest spot

Under the water tower’s wooden walkway, there’s a warou (welcome swallow) nest. It’s at the farthest end from the Visitor Centre and safely above the water level of the Lower Lake. This high sided, round nest is made of compacted mud and twigs, and is on a concrete ledge.

The only way you’ll get to spot the nest is to take a ride in the electric powered boat manned by one of our trained volunteers, such as Chris Gee. Chris gently brings the boat as close as possible to the water tower’s base, taking care to avoid waves and backwash. Once your eyes get adjusted to the shadowy, dim light, you can clearly see this cleverly constructed nest. It is amazing to think that it is just underfoot when you walk above it on the walkway that goes around the tower. Chris said the warou do not seem disturbed by footsteps on that wooden walkway, so close to the nest!

He also explained the best time to spot this secure, safe and cosy-looking nest is on a sunny afternoon when it is highlighted by the sun’s reflection on the Lower Lake.

Chris told our group that there were usually two broods per season. However, three broods were raised one year. The average number is three-to-four baby birds per brood.

Having lain empty since the end of last summer, the nest is now reoccupied. The warou using the nest are not banded so we can’t know if the same couple return to it each breeding season, but as warou mate for life, it seems likely.

If you want to see this cunningly concealed nest, complete with its residents, it’s one of the highlighted features in the new 2019 ZEALANDIA calendar, currently on sale in the Visitor Centre and online.


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