Posted by: jasonbojczyk | 21 August 2014

SWALLOWS!!!

Today’s Count: 4

Swallow-tailed Kite-2

Broad-winged Hawk-1

Peregrine Falcon-1

Additional Raptors Seen:

Turkey Vulture-7

Cooper’s Hawk-1

Crested Caracara-1

The highlight raptor-wise today were the closest Swallow-tailed Kites that I’ve ever seen. They came in quite low over the trees and had no problem heading out over the bay in the 15 mph south wind.

Swallow-tailed Kite

Swallow-tailed Kite

There wasn’t too much non-raptor action this morning with a few Lesser Yellowlegs, a few White-winged Doves, 12 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds, an Olive-sided Flycatcher, 29 Gnatcatchers, 2 Dickcissels, and 4 House Sparrows (somewhat high in flight) that threw me for a loop briefly.  There were about 1,000 swallows in the first 2 hours.

Sandwich Tern

Sandwich Tern

 

Around 1:15 the swallows really started to move and I was hoping for 3,000 for the day. Then I was hoping for 5,000 for the day. Then 8,000. Then 10,000! Then I didn’t have time to wish about how many swallows could pass the tower today!!!  It was the best swallow flight I’ve personally seen and the flight sustained for the next 6.5 hours, all the way until around 7:45 PM!!! Here’s the final totals:

24,677 swallows comprised of:

Purple Martin-366

Bank Swallow-204

Cliff/Cave Swallow-18,511

Barn Swallow-3,019

Swallow Species-2,577

The flight was simply incredible with 4 flight lines often going on at once-one behind the tower, one just in front of the tower, and 2 more in front of the tower out to 1/2 mile or so.  I chose to ignore the 2 further flight lines and so the number of swallows from these flight paths is not even included.  There easily could’ve been 5,000 or more swallows in those flight paths alone, so there probably were at least 30,000 swallows that went through Smith Point today, if not thousands more.  One good thing about the flight line behind the tower was the ability to pick up this Peregrine:

This Peregrine headed out over the bay before even reaching the tower and wouldn't have even been picked up if it weren't for the swallows

This Peregrine headed out over the bay before even reaching the tower and wouldn’t have even been picked up if it weren’t for the swallows

Other late evening/night highlights from the tower included a Chuck-will’s-widow just after sunset, Great Horned Owls calling, 3 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, and the largest White-winged Dove flock of the season, which I haven’t even counted yet but contains at least 180 birds:

Huge White-winged Dove flock

Huge White-winged Dove flock

My eyes are shot from the counting and pollen, but I’ll include some more details from today in tomorrow’s post.  Tomorrow looks like south winds 5-10 mph.  This has produced several thousand swallow days earlier this season and given that 2,000+ swallows occurred in the last hour of the day, 5,000+ for tomorrow is probably a fairly good possibility.  We shall see.

A dream come true!

A dream come true!

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