Most swallows are gone from my area by now. The Purple Martins are long gone. They left in July. The Barn Swallows that used to swoop and dive over my backyard in the late afternoon lingered a bit longer, but they are gone now, too. I haven't seen the Cliff Swallows and Cave Swallows that built their mud nests under bridges and overpasses for quite a while now. But when we went on our early morning walk today, we encountered a large flock of swallows swooping and swirling over the pond that we circle on the walk. Swooping, swirling, and sometimes dipping into the water as they chased insects for their breakfast.
I didn't have my binoculars to get a really close-up look at them, but after observing them for a few minutes, I decided they must be Northern Rough-winged Swallows. The color and the shape of the tail was right and their behavior was right. I'm reasonably sure that's what they were.
These swallows live throughout most of the country, including our area, during the summer. They generally migrate a bit farther south for the winter, although some may linger in the southernmost parts of the country. They are an early migrant in spring, sometimes returning to parts of their summer range as early as January or even late December.
With their graceful flight and soft, musical voices, plus the habit of many of the species of living in close proximity to humans, swallows are very popular birds. As I smiled at their acrobatic flights in today's early morning light, it was easy to understand that popularity.