Thursday, October 1, 2009

They're here. Or. They're back. Depending upon whether or not this is your first Swift Watch.

Please scroll down to see today's dahlia, Harvest Moonlight, from Swan Island Dahlias.

We're going backwards in time on this post because I wanted to lead off with a photo of the swifts diving into the chimney. I don't have a guess as to how many were there. I wish I'd seen even more of them like I've read there sometimes are earlier in the month. And next time I go to watch, in 2010 hopefully, I ought to remember to put the camera on sport. Bring my tripod and maybe get one of those remote things so that the camera doesn't move with each click. There was a man in front of us, over to the left, who had all of that and a zoom lens like you see at sporting events. I'll bet his photos are amazing!

As sunset neared to signal their finale, fewer swifts remained outside the chimney which meant clearer background skies.

Early on in the final rush, clouds of swifts headed for the chimney.

At some point before the final rush for the roost, the hawk gave up continually twisting his head in all directions, wondering which tasty morsel to grab. He took off for a few seconds' flight, then landed again on the rim of the chimney. The consensus of nearby swift-watchers--he missed.

I couldn't get a photo of one part of the night's event, an astonishing part, so I'll tell you about it. First, think for a moment about those clouds of bees in animated cartoons, the ones where the bees are about to sting someone or something, sort of quickly swirling in sync, this way, now that way. Well, that's what the swifts did, too. I saw two clouds of them, each swirling to their own sync. And I do believe one of those groups took off after the hawk who'd brazenly left the chimney top to shop for a meal in the sunset. He didn't confront them, but sort of flew away as they swiftly went the other way. Later on he flew through a less organized cloud. In fact, I'm wondering if the blur on the right of the chimney in the first photo in this post is the hawk.

The empty chimney--what I saw after I got settled on the hillside, before I started eating my pastrami on challah and potato salad.

Today's dahlia, Harvest Moonlight. Facts from Swan Island Dahlias--Bloom: 10" Yellow, Bush: 4 1/2'


Chuck Pefley said...

We have a similar enclave of Swifts north of Seattle in the small town of Monroe. Never been there, but probably should put it on my "to-do" list. Nicely done ... I like the fluidity of the birds showing the motion of their flight upwards.

AmyR said...

Wow - what is the noise like with that many birds?

WendyB said...

I feel like I'm in a Hitchcock movie.

Jim K said...

These are amazing shots. The chimney looks so peaceful in the last shot, but all the commotion in the top ones.

Tabib said...

Wow!, I like this entry. That birds beautiful.

√ Abraham Lincoln said...

You did get nice photographs of the swifts in flight. And I agree with you , that the first picture shows the hawk as a blur. It is a hawk for sure.

I really appreciate pictures like this because it shows how adaptive wildlife can be. I just hope to god that they leave the chimney standing for the sake of the birds. Can you imagine that many birds trying to find a new home if that was is suddenly torn down.