Where are the Fork-tailed Swifts & Needletails?

To: birdingaus <>
Subject: Where are the Fork-tailed Swifts & Needletails?
From: Michael Tarburton <>
Date: Sun, 28 Jan 2007 11:54:02 +1100

G'day bird students

I spent most of January either censusing swiftlet colonies in Finch Hatton Gorge and the Chillagoe-Mungana caves area, or driving up the coast then returning to Melbourne through the outback. Of course I look for swifts all the way, and this year there appeared to be some different distributions than what I normally encounter. So can you help verify my observations.

There appear to be very few WTNT or FTS in North Coastal and central coastal Qld. I saw WTNT the two days before I left Melbourne, and all the way through coastal NSW and SE Qld up to GinGin. But I saw none north of Gingin. There are usually some between Tully and Cairns and around Mackay - but none were seen at all this trip- not even swiftlets. Did the cyclone knock out the insect food supply? They appear to have reached Melbourne earlier than usual so will it be a good year for sightings in Tassie?

FTS were seen occasionally around Chillagoe then I recorded large flocks a few days ago in Central central and south central Qld.

So can those who live in far North Qld and Central Qld verify my observations and would others travelling through please let me know what swifts you see (how many and where and the prevailing weather if possible) so I can try to make some sense out of what is happening. I have just gone through all my e-mails with swifts in the titles and these tent to support my own observations. John Turner is still getting FTS in Adelaide so they are not all in Qld!

Of course as usual sightings of FTS & WTNT from anywhere are of interest in building up the picture of what is normal and how they respond to drought, cyclones and fires. Wouldn't it be good to be able to respond as a swift to localised problems by rapidly going somewhere else?

So please take a moment to report your FTS and WTNT sightings (directly or through Birding-Aus). Many thanks &

Mike Tarburton


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