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Sep 23, 2008

Portland Flyers

Here's some YouTube video of what I saw today in Portland -- Vaux's Swifts checking into the Chapman Elementary School hotel:

The actual evening show is around an hour long.  Tonight, a peregrine falcon gave us an interesting ten minute exhibition on how hard it is to catch a swift, especially when they occasionally turn the battle around and chase after the predator.  The woman next to me with binoculars saw it finally catch dinner before flying off.

There is various lore about the Vaux's Swifts at Chapman Elementary School.  The story I liked best was how the school used to freeze its kids for several weeks each autumn, as they wouldn't crank up their heating system until the birds had moved on.  For more pedestrian yet still interesting details, fly yourself to the Audobon Society of Portland.

I'm here for a short week to visit my friends JudyBat and AnnRay, with their kids The Boy and The Girl.  It's so lovely to see them.  JudyBat surprised me with tonight's outing.  Her only clue was that "we are going to a uniquely Portland event", which of course it was.

It was fun to see several hundred friendly Portland people gathered on the hill with snacks and meals and binoculars.  Were I the ambitious travel journalist, I would have interviewed folks about what they brought to eat and drink, and would have asked them to share their favorite Tom Swifty jokes.  But I am not so ambitious, so I settled for enjoying the show and the company of friends and nearby hillmates.

The swift migration through Portland lasts for several weeks each year, and I love the idea that so many people are out at the Chapman School every evening, kicking around a soccer ball, sliding down the hill on cardboard boxes, or just hanging out with friends and food, all for the occasion of hanging out with nature.  No tickets.  No scheduled show.  No PA system, nor even any electricity.  Just birds at sundown doing their thing.

01:23 AM in Traveling | Permalink


We must make haste to the Chapman School Hotel, said Tom, swiftly.

Posted by: G | Sep 23, 2008 11:05:10 AM