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DVOC Field Trip Report
by Jane Henderson

September 12, 2005

On Monday evening, September 12, a group of 15 DVOC members gathered at the Dobson School on Umbria Street in the Manayunk section of Philadelphia to witness the annual spectacle of hundreds of Chimney Swifts funneling into the school's huge chimney. That evening we estimated that we saw a total of about 400 birds.

From late August until the end of September, the swifts will use the chimney at Dobson on their annual migration route south to Peru, Brazil and other South American locations. In previous years, around the 20th of September, we have counted up to 10,000 swifts at this location.

Optional sites to experience this spectacle are Shawmont School at Eva Street and Shawmont Avenue in the Roxborough section of Philadelphia (very few there this year), and Jenks School on Germantown Avenue in Chestnut Hill.

As the sun is setting during the month of September in our part of the world (Delaware Valley), listen for the chitter of Chimney Swifts and try to follow the flock and locate their roost site. In September 2004 my husband and I came upon a site in Gettysburg, just this way, by following the chittering birds to a chimney.

A friend recently told me there is a site in Horsham where Chimney Swifts roost. If anyone knows about this we would like to know.

Jane Henderson

(The following additional information on Chimney Swifts in Philadelphia is provided by Judy Stepenaskie)

I wanted to report about the chimney swift roost at the Jenks school in the Chestnut Hill section of Phila. Last Weds. 9/21/05, an estimated 2100 swifts funneled in for the night. Sunset was at 6:59. The swifts started going into the chimney at 7:09, with the last one entering at 7:18. Roughly the same number of swifts were there last year, and neighbors reported that they have roosted there for years. Based on last year's numbers, many of them will be leaving within the next week.

The school is located at the corner of Germantown Ave. and Southampton St., and runs along the entire block on Southampton, between Germantown Ave. and Ardleigh. The chimney is located near Southampton St., and this is a good spot for viewing. Another viewing location is from the schoolyard on the opposite side of the schol from Southampton St. Walkways from both Germantown Ave. and Ardleigh St. lead to the schoolyard. Parking is available in the lot for the Farmer's market on Southampton St. Another parking lot is on Germantown Ave., up the street a little from Southampton St.

Pictures by Bert Filemyr