[birding] Migrant Vaux's Swifts near E.E. Wilson 26 Aug & more airport birding

Joel Geier joel.geier at peak.org
Thu Aug 29 05:40:54 PDT 2013

Hi all,

Becky saw a flock of about 40 VAUX'S SWIFTS foraging over our yard on
the evening of 26 Aug. Those were the first swifts that anyone has
noticed over our yard,  this year, so it seems like a sure sign that
they're on the move.

Unfortunately, I missed them as I was traveling for work, so swifts will
still be missing from my "motorless" list for 2013.

On my way home yesterday, I tried to do some birding during a 3-hour
layover at the Denver airport. Although the airport is surrounded by
open space on the east side of Denver, it turns out to be very hard to
get away from the airport on foot. 

When I asked several airport personnel if there was any pedestrian route
that would get me to unfenced open space beyond the parking area, they
looked at me like I was crazy. However, one fellow did tell me how to
get to a scruffy patch of weeds and grassy by going down five flights of
stairs, then walking out to the NE edge of the long-term parking lots.
There I found two Killdeer hanging out along a concrete-lined drainage
gully, plus one Say's Phoebe, plus a couple of flyover Starlings and
Brewer's Blackbirds.

Having nothing better to do, I leaned back on a concrete parking
barrier, enjoyed the smell of unprocessed air, and kept an eye on the
Say's Phoebe for about 45 minutes, as a tribe of six Eastern(?)
Cottontails gradually hopped out from under the available cover -- that
is, parked cars & SUVs -- to feed in the grass. 

During that time the phoebe spent an astonishingly high proportion of
its time just sitting atop a metal sign, making three unsuccessful
sallies when it saw insects flying out in the weeds (there weren't many
insects moving in the late afternoon). After the last of its forays from
that sign, the phoebe moved to a tractor with a front-end loader, where
it made one more sally out over the weeds. Then it switched to hopping
around on the parking lot surface under the tractor, where it seemed to
be picking dead bits of something off of the pavement.

I'm not sure this counts as a birding hotspot, but it was better than
sitting inside the airport terminal.

Happy birding,

Joel Geier
Camp Adair area north of Corvallis

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