Sunday, May 10, 2009

Distant Dotterels

I met up with Ashley Howe at Crosby; he'd come to take a look at the Pallid Swift there but, unfortunately, there was no sign. He headed off down to Kent(!) and I headed up to Plex Moss to take a look at the Dotterels there. They spent most of their time feeding in the tall stubble in the centre of a large field, only occasionally showing themselves fully. I counted a minimum of 14 of which most seemed to be females.

Friday, May 01, 2009

A Pallid surprise

I was a bit gutted yesterday. I'd woken up early but decided, with a lack of anything much to be done, do go back to sleep for a bit. Then when I did finally get out of bed, I had a text on my phone asking if I knew about the 'Pallid up my way'. I assumed Pallid meant Pallid Harrier, which I've seen before, and that 'up my way' meant somewhere in the north-west. So imagine my shock when I went online and saw the Pallid Swift Seaforth LWT. Darn. Working out the timing made me feel a bit better; from the time the news was released to the time the bird left would have been enough time for me to get about 3/4 of the way there, assuming I was in the car within a minute of the news breaking...

Cut to this afternoon when I received a text from Ash Howe saying 'get your ass to Seaforth'. The bastard swift was back... After waiting to check it was lingering, I decided to go for it. About 2/3 of the way there though, the bird was reported as having flown north; I was tempted to give up and head back home but I decided I might as well carry on though, even if it meant having to drive up to the dunes north of the marina and search for the bird there. Just as I was arriving in Waterloo, I had a phonecall to say the bird was back and was showing well over the far car park. Two minutes later and I was pulling into the car park, greeted by a group of birders watching a swift overhead. Window down, bins up, and there is was. Nice.

The bird continued to show excpetionally well over the car park. So well, in fact, that I got this stunning picture of it.

You can see all the important ID features. And how pale and brown it was. Can't you?
Most of the time it was on its own when it looked a lot larger than a Common Swift. Later, it joined two Common Swifts and while there was very little difference in size, the Pallid was noticeably broader winged and bodied. It also stood out as being much paler and browner, even with the naked eye.
As the evening went on, it became more mobile and eventually moved over into Seaforth where it fed with about 15 Common Swift. The Common Terns on the other side of the fence were also a year tick...