We should have known when we saw the flock of Black Swifts swirling above our heads that it was going to pour with rain. These scimitar-winged birds come whirling in with coastal depressions in late May and early June, chasing newly emerged insects under the looming clouds. For a long time it was a mystery where swifts raised their young; turns out that they like to build their nests behind waterfalls on steep mountain slopes. Swifts seldom come to land and have very short legs. They only perch at the nest site, prefering a life on the wing.
No sooner had the swifts swept across the sky than the rain began: big, heavy, drops quickly turning to a bona fide downpour. I was birding with the Delta Naturalists’ Casual Birders – they don’t get put off by rain, so we carried on down the trail at Grant Narrows on the shores of Pitt Lake, looking for warblers, flycatchers and thrushes.
Of course we didn’t see much while it poured with rain, other than a damp-looking Western Wood Pewee chasing flies near an old shed, but our patience was rewarded when an hour or so later, the sun emerged. The hills were thick with mist – was that fresh snow across the water? The sun galvanized the wildlife. Frogs began croaking, Yellow Warblers and Wilson’s Warblers flitted around the bushes, pulling bugs off the leaves, and pairs of Wood Ducks lifted from the ponds and flew excitedly across the marsh.
A beautiful location, after the rain.