[Tweeters] A summer of Swifts and Falls

Larry Schwitters lpatters at ix.netcom.com
Fri Aug 19 17:13:20 PDT 2005


What an incredible summer I've been experiencing. I was lucky enough
to become a hired hand for the American Bird Conservancy, attempting to
finish off their Washington State Black Swift waterfall nest site list.
It's been a lot of miles on the mini SUV at $2.50 plus a gallon, and
I've strongly bonded with 21 LED flashlights.

One of the first lessons learned was that while I have no problems
telling swifts from swallows, a Black from a Vaux's can be. If you see
them together, or sitting, there is no doubt, but that's seldom the
With a distant bird and a sky background a Vaux's still gets my pulse
rate up until I can get trees behind them so they show their milk
chocolate color.

Lesson two is that a waterfall can look great pictured on Swan's
"Waterfalls of the Pacific Northwest" website,
(http://www.waterfallsnorthwest.com/) but be a at first glance obvious
waste of time in person. To overcome this I spent evenings on my back
at the base of some waterfall, and days deciding which waterfalls were
worth the evening observation. I don't think I've visited 100
different falls yet this summer but must be getting close. Of the 15
waterfalls that I was really excited about finding Black Swifts at, the
birds showed at 14. I also documented two falls that I figured were
long shots and even located a new, unknown waterfall (kind of).

Early on I was wanting to end up with a better batting average than
Ichiro, so It may just be Miller time, but not yet. We have yet to lay
eyes on an actual nest.

I wonder if I have a long enough rope.

I'm going to bother you Tweeters with more Black Swift stuff later.

Good swifting,

Larry Schwitters

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