World’s Fastest Swift Visits Plunkett

The world’s fastest swift – the White-throated Needletail – recently visited Plunkett’s Wickham Peak.

A combination of storm activity, rock escarpment and heath vegetation has attracted a flock of White-throated Needletails to the area.

These speedsters are thought to follow thunderstorm systems as the thermal uplift that precedes these events can assist flight and carry insects up into the atmosphere. The rocky north face of Wickham Peak (or Picnic Hill as it’s known by the locals) often creates an updraft from prevailing winds.

The heath vegetation attracts a high diversity of insects which in-turn attracts aerial insect feeders.

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The White-throated Needletail migrates from its breeding grounds in the northern hemisphere to Australia in late spring and doesn’t return until late autumn.

This species has been recording flying at up to 160km/hr and is in the top five fastest birds in the world. Look out if you’re an insect!

A couple of dozen of these beauties were seen in early December darting aerobatically around the Peak and scooting past only a meter or two from the ground.

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Some of the more regular visitors that frequent Wickham Peak due to the updraft that is created by the lay of the land include Rainbow Bee-eaters that feed on insects around the Peak, and in November each year Caper White butterflies can be seen in large numbers fluttering over the Peak.

Related links on White-throated Needletails:

Amazing Planet Video
Birds in Backyards
Birdlife Australia
10pedia Video

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