Thursday, April 5, 2012

Violet-Green Swallows

Feathered Rocket-a.k.a. Violet-green swallow

My morning walk today took me to a place called Asotin Slough. It is a habitat area created along the Snake River and is one of my favorite places to walk as it's usually quiet and filled with a variety of wildlife. Since it's supposed to be spring (at least that's what the calendar says) I was hoping to find some of the spring migrants winging their way through. This mornings treat was dozens of violet-green swallows working the river for bugs.
Violet -green swallow
 These birds are fast little buggers! I tried to follow them with binoculars to make the correct identification as they are very similar to tree swallows. Then, for amusement and to make myself crazy, I tried to photograph them. HA-HA!! Do you know what that's like? Think feathered rocket weaving back and forth then changing course in the blink of an eye and you'll have a pretty fair idea. Out of sixty some odd photos I was able to get a few that are semi recognizable as birds. But I got the correct i.d.!
Violet-green swallow sketch
Back home under more controlled conditions I printed out the somewhat fuzzy photos and made a quick watercolor sketch to record the aerial acrobats I enjoyed watching. Violet-greens get their name from their color. The adults head and back is an iridescent dark green with a lovely iridescent blue violet on the rump area above the tail. This can be seen in good light, otherwise it appears almost black especially when they're zipping by at a high rate of speed. They can be distinguished from tree swallows by this color and also the white above the eye and across the rump. There again, at high speed it's a challenge to determine. They have long pointed wings and, I was surprised to see from the photographs, rather plump, though very aerodynamic short bodies. They are definitely built for speed and maneuverability and they demonstrated that quite well for me this morning!

 " In every walk with nature one receives far more than he seeks"  John Muir

This morning I sought quiet, solitude and a chance to see a spring migrant or two. I found all those and so much more. 
Happy Spring!