Welcome. Edgartown News was born from the simple fact that I have ink and Dektol in my veins and I need to write and photograph more than I need air or food, and from my love for this little town where I grew up and raised my family, the town I have left a few times but can't quite shake for good. Here you will find wanderings and musings, photographs and commentary; the people, places, and happenings - past and present - of a small island town: my home town.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Vineyard Classic

Hundreds of swallows danced above the dunes at South Beach on Sunday.
Sunday was a classic Vineyard September day, a one-hundred-dollar day if there ever was one - crystal clear, not too hot, not too cold, with a brisk, refreshing wind; remnants of Earl, the hurricane that wasn't.

I had a hankering to see what was going on out at South Beach, wave-wise, so I took a drive out the right fork.

The first thing I noticed when I got to the beach was a large swarm, or flock, of something in the air over the dunes. At first I thought it was a swarm of dragonflies - this being dragonfly season and all - but as I walked closer to the action I realized it was the largest flock of swallows I had ever seen; there were literally hundreds and hundreds of swallows, soaring together en masse and in perfect synchronicity: up to the sky - soaring to the left, swooping to the right; now down, now up. This collective mass of birds looked like a fast-moving black cloud, swooping down very low to the dunes, not quite landing, but rather, hovering over the grass, but only briefly before suddenly soaring sky-ward again. They seemed unfazed by my presence and I was able to get so close that I could practically feel the flutter of their wings. I watched them in amazement as they repeated these movements several times before they flew on down Atlantic Avenue. I have never seen such a large flock of swallows before and I have no idea what they were doing. I thought perhaps they were in the middle of a feeding frenzy, but I didn't see any bugs. Besides, it was way too windy at South Beach yesterday for mosquitoes to be flying around. The other thing I wondered as I watched this fascinating sky dance was - how do they know how to fly together with such precise synchronicity? Is there a leader? Or, maybe they are so intricately tuned in to each other and to the group that each is able to match the movement of the bird next to itself, instantaneously.

Whatever the answers, I count this dance of the swallows as a treasure of a treasured day, thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated by this spectator.

You can identify a swallow by the vee-shaped notch in its tail, hence the expression, "swallow-tailed."

Terns work the shoreline.

The terns were not as trusting as the swallows, taking flight the minute I got close.

Vineyard classic.

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