G'day Birding-Aus compatriots,
Fork-tailed Swift (Apus pacificus ) Report for 2004/05 Season.
Well this year was different at least in one respect: the first sighting that I
received of Fork-tailed Swifts was from Qld rather than WA. Del Richards saw
five on the Mossman R. 9.10.2004. It was not until 28 Oct that WA came good
when Ricki Coughlan recorded 50+ at the Broome Bird Observatory. Back to Qld
and Julia Creek where Marc Gardner saw 80 on 20 Nov. The reciprocation
continued with Adrian Boyle and George Swann seeing one (come on men is that
all you could muster) at Adele Island (150 km Nth C. Leveque) on the 20 and 24
The first reports from NSW came from Smiths Lake where five were seen 30 Nov
and again 1 Dec. by Frank Hemmings and D. Hair. The first Victorian record I
have was of 250 swifts over Gellibrand Hill, Woodlands Historic Park on 14 Feb.
Even after this time most reported sightings came from WA and Qld though in
March there was an influx of sightings in NSW. The only NT sightings I have
were of 50 birds seen on the Nightcliff foreshore, Darwin 17 Feb by Arthur
Keates (per Barry McClean).
The first South Australian reported sighting was on 31 Mar when John Turner saw
two swifts on the West Beach Foreshore, Adelaide. The next day John saw groups
of 5 and 25+ in Novar Gardens, Adelaide. The day after that (2 Apr) John saw
flocks of 100 and 30 so these birds either stayed around Adelaide for a few
days or were disjunct portions of a larger movement through Adelaide. I
favour the latter proposal because on that day and the day following seven
sightings were made in Vic. Numbers built up in Victoria and on 10 Apr.
500-1500+ were seen in Werribee (Joy Tansey, Dave Torr & Rohan Clarke), 1000+
at French Island (Paul Peake) and 10 at Leopold on the Bellarine Peninsula
(Peter Fuller). The last sighting in Victoria that I have is once again the
(equal) last sighting I have for the whole of Australia. It was of 50+ swifts
seen at Muckleford Forest, Newstead 17 Apr. This is not the whole picture
however, for on that same day Phil Maher saw 30+ birds at Deniliquin, NSW.
Even though so many swifts were in Victoria during Mar & Apr I received no
reports of Fork-tailed Swifts from Tasmania.
Clearly most swifts were leaving Australia without being seen as there are no
other reports further north and also on that day (17 Apr) Adrian Boyle (Who
missed out on being the first to see swifts in Australia (He was the first for
the two previous seasons)) saw one heading North through China. Two days later
he saw another and another on 2 May. These were not the first Adrian saw on
their northward migration. On the 22 March he recorded 30 moving North low
over the Chongming Dongtan Island mudflats. Another four followed on 23 March.
The sighting of single birds and small groups arriving in Australia and the
build up of large flocks in Victoria by the end of the season has a number of
historical precedents and may be a fairly regular pattern.
28 of the reports I have to this point came from NSW, 26 from Vic, 22 from Qld,
16 from WA, 6 from SA and one from NT.
Swifts are always interesting to collect data on so if you have any records
that I do not have access to please send them along to help fill out the
picture. Thank you to all those who sent in their sightings. I look forward
to writing up the White-throated needletail report and to receiving many more
sightings over the next few months.
Enjoy your swift watching.
Dr Mike Tarburton
Dean: School of Science and Technology
Pacific Adventist University
Papua New Guinea
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