I first saw the Vaux's Swifts back in 2005 when my cousin was visiting. It was a very serene peaceful evening of about 30 people watching the birds retire for the evening. This year I got to see them again and it was a very different experience.
Each September the Swifts sleep in the old chimney at Chapman Elementary School for a few weeks. We are one of their many stops on their migration trail. They spend the days out and about. When the sun sets, they create a swirl pattern and descend into the chimney for the night. It's an amazing sight to see thousands of birds deftly enter this small opening in a very short period of time.
This time a hawk created a lot of drama. He would sweep in and the swifts would scatter. This went on for quite awhile (with the crowd rooting loudly for the swifts) until the swifts ganged up on the hawk. Finally, the hawk left and the swifts could continue to retire for the evening.
This is a super cropped shot to show the birds in better detail.
The thing that was most amazing about the night was the turn out. Hundreds of people brought blankets and picnics to watch birds. Birds! People were friendly and courteous. It felt like one big party. It's such a fun thing to experience. I can't wait to see them next year.