Sediment entrainment and the initiation of bed defects has commonly been ascribed to the impact of high velocity sweeps upon mobile sand beds. Results of visualization experiments suggest that these sweep impacts are grouped and may define ‘patches’of entrainment upon a mobile bed that may be wider than an individual sweep impact. Additionally, the presence of longitudinal ribs of sediment generated by sweep impacts may stabilize the position of sweeps and low speed streaks. These observations are interpreted in the light of recent boundary layer research which suggests the formation of multiple hairpin shaped vortices within turbulent flows: these are postulated to generate multiple sweeps that manifest themselves as entrainment patches on a mobile bed. These features of the turbulent boundary layer and its modification by sweep generated sediment ridges can be used to propose a model for bed defect formation and the subsequent development of current ripples.