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FRNC & Mt. Soledad – Black Swifts more info & photos, May 20, 2018

Some further additional notes here on BLACK SWIFT sightings today from Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery, Point Loma and Mt. Soledad, La Jolla.
120 Black Swifts seen today!
I almost quit Fort Rosecrans this morning after a very dull and chilly morning birding from 6:30am and seeing very few birds.  A cool south breeze was gently blowing and low thick marine layer kept the temps down.  Then at 9am I spotted a BANK SWALLOW with the resident Barn Swallow flock feeding over the Ficus trees which are fruiting, one or two trees heavily so, and seem to have a good supply of flying insects nearby.  Nice!  This was just east of the Committal Shelter on east side.  Then 7 PURPLE MARTIN came flying by me heading south towards the point!  I managed to snag some poor photos and thought they might return but only saw another single bird about 90 minutes later.  Then just as that was happening I spied the first BLACK SWIFT at 9:10am.  Then followed singles at 9:16am, and 9:28am.  Then small groups started appearing 3-5 strong, with a maximum size group of 12 birds.  Total count was 39 individuals in just under 2 hours.  All birds approaching from the south and right over or visible from the highway.  Viewed from the highway just south of the Committal Shelter.
I left the cemetery just after 11am for a lunch date with my family in La Jolla but got a call on the way that plans had changed and a delay!  No problem so I stopped at Mt. Soledad of course.  As soon as I walked up to the area around the cross I looked straight up and had 10 BLACK SWIFT circling overhead at 11:58am!  They did this for a minute before climbing very quickly in elevation and disappeared north.  I waited around and had another single bird pass east to west.
After lunch I was driving by Mt. Soledad on way home and of course stopped again!  Within a few minutes a flock of very low flying 15 BLACK SWIFT went by east to west.  Waiting some more and I suddenly heard unmistakable swift chittering calls.  There were no swifts in sight anywhere then suddenly a flock of 40-50 just cruising low up the east side of Mt. Soledad and right overhead calling.  It was pretty amazing to see filling the sky overhead with swifts and watching them arcing over the top of the hill chasing each other!  I was a bit paralyzed just seeing so many at once but did shoot off some frames getting a photo with 14 in the frame at once as they left going west!  Then a longer wait and another group of 15 at 3:39pm.  At least 70 in total this session.  These groups all passing east to west, slightly obliquely coming in from same or just lower height than Mt. Soledad, rising over the peak or sliding by at eyeball level on the north or south sides.
I put lots of photos in the three eBird checklists here:
Fort Rosecrans National Cemetery https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S45882702
Mt. Soledad afternoon (14 bird frame here!) https://ebird.org/view/checklist/S45882863
One of those days birding you never forget!

Gary Nunn
you can find me on twitter,
@garybnunn

Source: SanDiegoRegionBirding Latest Reports