Swifts and more swifts


Every year around this time, thousands of Vaux’s Swifts fly down from around Alaska on their way to Central America. It’s a long flight, so they make stops along the way. One of those familiar stops for them happen to be a large and tall chimney stack on an elementary school in Northwest Portland. The chimney is so much bigger than the small birds, that at the peak, tens of thousands of these little critters pack into the chimney wall at one time to hold over. I suppose they hang out and check out the sights for a few days before heading on their way, but it’s quite a sight.

End of September, early October generally marks the end of stay here with only a few hundreds left, but yesterday when I was there birdwatching, there were still at least a grand of them. They seem to have this habit of swamping around in circles making fake passes at the chimney without actually entering, until at some point around dusk, some bird decides it’s time, and then all the birds starts entering the chimney. Yesterday, it took a good 10 minutes for all the birds to make it in.

With that many birds flying around in circles overhead, and not many people wearing hats or caps, including yours truly, you’d expect issues with flyby bombings, but amazing I didn’t hear one person exclaim from the large group that had gathered. Not that the birds didn’t drop any; my camera bag was unfortunately enough to be hit, but it kept silent from the ordeal, so no one realized, except me later.

I tried to capture both sharp images of the birds, shot at 3200 ISO due to the low light, and fluid shots of blurs, shot at 800 ISO, that end up looking like flies buzzing in the air. In the end, I sandwiched two images to produce the one below.

Vauxs Swift entering chimney stack. This is a composite of two images.

Vaux's Swifts entering chimney stack. This is a composite of two images



One Response to “Swifts and more swifts”

  1. 1 Barrie

    I like the composite. It really makes the photo interesting – captures the movement nicely. Top, your photos are really quite good. I always enjoy when you post a new one.

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