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White-throated needletails help forecast rain?

Yesterday I noticed large flocks of  White-throated needletails during the mid-afternoon while I was swimming at Mollymook Beach on the south coast of NSW.  It is the second large flock I have seen this year – the first I noticed at the Ching Tombs north-east of Beijing. 

Folklore suggests that these birds congregate and are therefore most easily observed when fine weather is about to  be replaced by rainfall.  and on each occasion this year rain did arrive as predicted. 

Needletails are not often observed roosting – they do in fact roost in trees – and feed on insects up to the cloudline.  They can drink water while flying and are among the fastest bird species in flight.   The flocks I noticed yesterday seemed to be hawking for insects directly above the sandy beach.  Inexplicably the winds were strong onshore so the insect story may not be right.

1 comment to White-throated needletails help forecast rain?

  • andrewt

    Mike Tarburton ( m_tarburton at optusnet.com.au) collates swift reports for Australia and is always happy to receive e-mailed reports.

    Large flocks are worth checking for fork-tails – this year mmight be a good one to see them on the SE coast.

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