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Weekend Swift Tally-ho!

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  • Rich712@...
    Chirp, Saturday evening featured a small gathering of people (suspect some were avid birders) congregated behind Johnson s Auto Glass in hopes of seeing a few
    Message 1 of 1 , Sep 22 8:59 PM
      Saturday evening featured a small gathering of people (suspect some were avid birders) congregated behind Johnson's Auto Glass in hopes of seeing a few swifts funnel into the bricks.  It looked bleak right up until sunset (7:02 pm) when four score and seven (whoops, wrong story)...ah, dozens of swifts swirled in giving hopes that, at the minimum, a decent public spectacle could be enjoyed.  By 7:17, over 500 had entered (coming from who knows where) and several hundred were still in a holding pattern.  Three people counted over 800 each with the average being 852.  Nice show!
      Sunday, the weather was dreary all day with a pretty good rainfall at my house (3700 Boonie Boon-Fisher Park Golf Course) around 3:30 pm.  Rain is a real wild card for roost activity.  Experts on the wet-side maintain that the swifts will beat the first big raindrops to the chimney.  I was pondering the value of going down to Johnson's but dinner was finished by 6:30 and it had not rained for over two hours.  
      Greg and Elizabeth Bohn were on site when I arrived.  They got there just after 6, saw their first swift at 6:11, and then at 6:29, one swift dropped into the chimney.  That guy was some kind of catalyst (if I remember my high school chemistry correctly) because as soon as he disappeared into the calm inner air of the bricks, some type of volatile reaction occurred and swifts began pouring OUT of the chimney for the next seven minutes!  An estimated 300 exited and were quickly absorbed into the atmosphere as they vanished from sight.
      I pulled in perhaps 15 minutes prior to tonight's 7:00 pm sunset and there was nary a swift to be seen.  It was pretty much a repeat of Saturday but on a much grander scale.  At sunset, it appeared we might have to settle for 50 or so.  Ten minutes later, a noisy (I was told) group swifts started entering, then swirling, then several more staggered entries with the swirling mass always appearing to be 400 or more.  Greg, as usual, was running a tally using a pen to dash a hash-mark for each group of ten swifts.  By 7:24, I think he ran out of ink and had to switch pens.  Grand total for the night was 1,241.  A new high count for this roost site.  As of yesterday, a couple of the wet-side chimneys that average a couple thousand swifts (not the meg-stacks) had pretty much gone dry.  Johnson's on the other hand has had two banner back to back counts.  Perhaps, dry-side birds are slower to leave for their winter range?
      Not so swift  
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