Swifts or flocking swallows?

Subject: Swifts or flocking swallows?
From: Gordon and Pam Cain <>
Date: Fri, 23 Jul 2010 19:46:48 +1000
I was looking over the dam at a local property today, and saw what I first thought were swallows. However, a few things made me wonder: First, they were flocking -- there was a good 15-25 birds together. I don't recall seeing swallows in those numbers before.

Second, they were up higher than what I'm used to seeing -- in my mind, swallows often fly much lower, and frequently dip a drink in the water as well as catch their dinner on the wing. these were flying at and above the tree top level -- lots of tall large eucalypts. And I saw none dipping a drink in the dam.

Also, not all appeared to have forked tails -- at first I assumed martins.

Finally, it was as a cool change came through this afternoon.

So does it look like I was watching a flock of swallows with perhaps a couple martins tossed in, or were these fork-tailed swifts and white-throated needle tails? To my knowledge, I've never seen the latter before, though I gather they are not terribly uncommon at the leading edge of a cool change.

Thanks in advance for your help to a casual birder.

Gordon Cain
Schofields, NSW
(NW Blacktown, close to the Hawkesbury, NW Sydney)

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