Saturday, May 18, 2013
SWALLOWS ABOVE THE POOL
Swallows swooping, gliding, wheeling, and diving in the sunlight air above the Cottage Pool are a summer fixture. Sometimes they're joined by cedar waxwings or chimney swifts. Occasionally a few purple martins stop by for a meal. Come darkness, the bug-rich arena becomes the hunting province of nighthawks and bats.
I especially like watching the tree swallows—though only because I enjoy seeing those blue-green iridescent flashes when bright sunlight at the right angle bounces off the bird's topside feathers. Otherwise, all swifts, swallows, and their kin are the personification of aerobatic grace on the wing—maneuvering at high speed as the chase their prey through the air, twisting, plummeting, hovering, ascending, all managed with mesmerising fluid elegance.
The photo above—admittedly mediocre—is of perhaps twenty of so rough-winged swallows I watched the other morning. Which, I'll also admit, is mostly an educated guess. To my eye they appeared slightly larger than bank swallows, and lacked the dark breast band. And they weren't white enough on the underside to be immature tree swallows. Plus their flight seemed more gliding and less fluttering. Additional keys to the contrary, rough-winged swallows seems reasonable.