Australian Swiftlets in NSW

To: Sandy Gilmore <>, "" <>, "mike tarburton (SWIFT records)" <>
Subject: Australian Swiftlets in NSW
From: martin cachard <>
Date: Tue, 5 Feb 2019 04:11:48 +0000
hi Sandy,
that's a great record...

whilst not unheard of, it still isn't a common occurence to have Aust Swiftlets that far south into NE NSW.

I suspect it could have something to do with the record wet weather in NE Qld at the moment.

interestingly, although I am seeing loads of this species up here around Cairns at the moment as we do all year, I haven't seen either Fork-tailed (Pacific) Swifts or any White-throated Needletails up here for weeks since the wetter cooler weather had set in. 
prior to that, I was seeing lots of both frequently.

so I suspect the food supply has decreased here somewhat of late, at least for the migrant species...

also, I hope you don't mind, but I've looped in Mike Tarburton in on this mail - he is THE Aussie expert on swifts and has an important ongoing longterm study underway, and he would be very interested to hear about your fantastic record!!


martin cachard

trinity beach, cairns, fnq

From: Birding-Aus <> on behalf of Sandy Gilmore <>
Sent: Tuesday, 5 February 2019 1:47 PM
Subject: [Birding-Aus] Australian Swiftlets in NSW
On Saturday 2nd February at 5.15 Eastern Summer Time between Goonengerry and Repentance Creek, north-eastern N.S.W., I looked vertically and saw about 100 Australian Swiftlets fly overhead about 30 metres above the ground, on a ridge with a mixture of orchard and pasture and adjoining slopes and gullies with regrowth rainforest. This appears to have been the tail end of what could have been a bigger flock.

At first glance I thought they were martins but their wing profiles and flight looked too swift like, and I then saw they were grey where martins would be blue. All  were flying eastward with substantial gliding but occasionally one would spread its tail and slow rapidly as though catching an insect.

Half an hour earlier I had seen greyish white flashes when looking horizontally about 250 metres to the east of the sighting location, but, without my binoculars I had no idea what bird species they could have been, although the subsequent closer sighting suggests they may have been swiftlets.

It is tempting to speculate that the very wet conditions in north Queensland had driven them further south than usual.

Sandy Gilmore

Goonengerry, N.S.W. 2482

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