[Tweeters] Black Swifts/ Stehekin

jeff gibson gibsondesign at msn.com
Thu Jun 26 20:41:43 PDT 2008

Hi Tweeters.

If you're looking for a Black Swift in the summer, Stehekin (at the head of Lake Chelan) is a good bet. I worked for the Park Service in Stehekin in the summer's of 75 and 76. You had as good a chance of seeing Black Swifts as you did seeing Violet-Green Swallow's (and there were plenty of them ). Black Swifts were a daily event thru June and July. Just look up for very fast moving distant objects!

Stehekin really is an amazing place - at the north end of 50+ mile long Lake Chelan. The lake is @ 1100' elevation and the surrounding peaks and ridges are about 7000' higher, making it one of the deepest 'canyons' in the US.
Having a classic U - shaped glacial valley and plenty of waterfalls, it's Black Swift city.

Stehekin is also a unique East- West corridor - the low altitude lake pushing up deep into the Cascades. Within walking distance (a good walk) you could see breeding Winter Wrens and Canyon Wrens. Or Varied Thrushes, and Veery's , as examples of the great bird diversity.
One of my coolest Black Swift sightings was on a downlake flight. Back in those days Ernie Gibson (not related)
flew a floatplane back and forth to Chelan and on a flight downlake a Black Swift flew close by the plane - at almost the same speed ! Arriving above Chelan old Ernie dropped that plane like an aspen leaf on a calm day. I'm glad to say I did'nt "soil" the Gibson name.

Although these sightings took place more than 30 years ago, the habitat has'nt changed much on this northern end of the Black Swift migration.

Jeff Gibson, Everett WA
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