Fork-tailed Swift Summary of 1999/00

To: Mike Tarburton <>
Subject: Fork-tailed Swift Summary of 1999/00
From: Ian May <>
Date: Tue, 25 Sep 2001 11:39:16 +0930
G'Day Mike

Several years ago (early October 1998) while crossing Joseph Bonaparte
Gulf about 100 n.m. off shore and sailing west from Darwin into WA
waters at approx. long 128.30 E, Pat and I observed small numbers of
Fork-tailed Swifts flying south and apparently migrating towards the
mainland (Cambridge Gulf) from Timor. They were flying fast and directly
at low altitude in small groups of two and three birds, with several
minutes between each sighting.  The day was reasonably calm.  The number
of birds seen over 2 hours was about 50 and we were travelling a little
over 7 knots so the transect would have covered about 28 kilometres.

I was surprised to find them so dispersed flying at low altitude of
about two metres and less above the waves, appearing to use the "ground
effect" from the surface of the water to aid their flight.


Ian May

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