Ooops. No "American" in those tree swallow. Just tree swallows, and maybe they were Canadian, anyway. Sorry about that slip of the keyboard.
On Fri, Sep 30, 2016 at 4:22 PM, Karen Edelstein <k...@cornell.edu> wrote: > Joe Wetmore and I just returned from several days in the Provincetown, MA > area. On Monday, while we were hiking to High Head Beach (North Truro) > along the Cape Cod National Seashore, we witnessed what seems to be a > fairly lightly documented phenomenon in that area: the massing of American > tree swallows on their migration south. While the locals we later talked to > mentioned that they frequently see a lot of tree swallows along the Cape in > the fall, what we serendipitously encountered was really intriguing. > > On our walk, as we crested the dunes and could see the ocean, we noticed > large clouds of birds swirling overhead. The white bellies, calls, and > flight patterns were a fast clue that these were tree swallows, these birds > were surprisingly round. Well, fat. The birds all landed on the beach in a > group, not far from the surf line, each one perched on the highest ridge of > sand in the vicinity. The flock numbered about 3000. All sitting on the > sand, facing south. Occasionally, they would startle, and most take to the > air, only to settle down again. > > A naturalist on our whale watching trip later the next day congratulated > us for seeing these birds, since he knew of few birders in the area who > talk about these migration massings. When I checked eBird later that night, > the records there resonated...sitings of 80, maybe a few hundred there. > Ebird kicked my report back, in fact, asking me whether I'd actually seen > 3000. The whale guide indicated that a little bit south in Wellflleet, he > sees an estimated 100,000 there some years. > > After doing a little reading, it made sense. The swallows are gorging > themselves silly on the lipid-rich bayberries that grow along the dunes, > fattening up to fuel their long flights to southern wintering grounds. > Bayberries are their second preferred food after insects. The following day > at Race Point, we saw more flocks along the coast, looking from a distance > like black haze moving along the shoreline, then coming in waves to the > shrublands in back of the dunes, presumably to eat more. > > While this was just dumb luck to have seen what we did, I bet it would > make a great research project for some enterprising student. I just count > myself as fortunate, particularly when I thought the swallows living around > the Finger Lakes had been gone for over a month already. > > Karen Edelstein > -- Cayugabirds-L List Info: http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsWELCOME http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsRULES http://www.NortheastBirding.com/CayugabirdsSubscribeConfigurationLeave.htm ARCHIVES: 1) http://firstname.lastname@example.org/maillist.html 2) http://www.surfbirds.com/birdingmail/Group/Cayugabirds 3) http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/CAYU.html Please submit your observations to eBird: http://ebird.org/content/ebird/ --