Thousands, higher numbers than I comprehend, of tree swallows were staging today near Crackatuxet Cove, an area at the southeast corner of Edgartown Great Pond accessible from the “right fork” at Katama. A bunch of the Vineyard’s regular birders tried Aquinnah and Red Beach looking for storm birds this morning. Two Black Terns and two Spotted Sandpipers are the only finds worth mentioning. We then traversed the Island to the Farm Institute, which was way less than spectacular. Disappointed, some of us drove the Atlantic leg of the Katama triangle and saw, far off, a swarm of swallows. From the car and outside on foot we got the intimate and unusual view of standing within a giant flock of swallows. Their movements reminded me of fans doing the “wave” in a stadium. Just before leaving the area we swung the cars into a puddled parking lot where Warren, Pete and I had repeatedly seen Snow Buntings last winter, because there was another small horde of swallows on the ground. Right in the middle was this pale angel which Pete called almost immediately from the Jeep.
The white bird seemed to take a fair amount of heat from the dark swallows, occasionally while on the ground and frequently while in the air. I do not know if it was curiosity or harassment.
The bill had some light color, increasing toward the base; the feet appeared pinkish; the eye looked dark to me, although more of a brown than the others’ beady black; and the underwing linings and some other plumage were a brownish pinky buff. If you are interested in the definitions of albino and leucistic, you can apply them here as desired. Either way, this is a sweet little avian anomaly, a glowing apparition that we could distinguish far off into the distance when it moved on with its fellows.
Can I say for sure it’s a Tree Swallow? Well, no, not really, although I would take the bet. There were no other swallow species seen among the thousands that surrounded us.
One in a million? Who knows?
Get off my case!
Up, up & away!
And white birds are very cool! Lan
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