Re: Chimney Swifts

Brian Fitch

The conditions on Mt Davidson this morning were fascinating.  At my house in the city flats, it was 53 degrees and the car was drenched with fog precip, but on Mt D, a decent breeze was blowing from the east, it was dry away from the trees, and it was probably in the low 70's.  The strange aspect was not the inversion, but the thin layer of clarity between the surrounding fog below and the smoke above.  Judging from the Marin hills, there was possibly 300-400 feet of clear sky between these layers.

Nothing was flying when I arrived, so I made the circuit around the hill, finding only a few migrant species, but noting a large number of Purple Finches.  A flyby kestrel got my attention back on the sky, so I settled in on the northeastern shoulder for a watch.  Highlights over the next 2.5 hours included roughly 200 Band-tailed Pigeons, 50 Yellow-rumped Warblers, 110 Purple Finches, 50 Lesser Goldfinches, and 165 Pine Siskins.  There were several mixed flocks of finches and siskins, but most were in mono-flocks.  A pair of flyby Western Bluebirds was an uncommon sighting for here, and the only other raptors were a Sharpie and a TV, with nothing coming by after 11.  The only unusuals on the hill were both Red-breasted, a sapsucker and a nuthatch.  I left when the thin smoke layer lowered onto me around 11:45.

The Chimney Swifts came by well after ten, taking me by surprise as they approached through the eucs on the north slope.  They were flying eastward directly at me, then swerved toward the southeast over the ravine, over the saddle just a foot off the ground, and then soared out and downward over the south slope and out of sight.  They were close, in good light, and thankfully were of the darker variant of the species.  The field marks were already mentioned in the first letter, but again, the chaetura cigar shape was obvious, and the gray was steely, with no brownish tones that I could see.  Since I focused on a single bird, the closest, I am not sure if there were 3, but that was the peripheral impression I got.  So technically, they could have been of another species.  This is my second sighting in the city, both at Mt D, the first was in spring a few years ago.
Brian Fitch

On Mon, Oct 5, 2020 at 10:46 AM Brian Fitch via <> wrote:
Mt davidson, 3 birds, one studied very briefly as it flew beneath my position 
Chaetura shape, all darker gray dorsally, no lighter on rump, brief soaring, not fluttering flight as with vaux’s and no pale throat as it approached face on.
Southbound at good speed

Brian Fitch

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