We were in Tesco buying some extra value white bread (more on that later) when news came through of a Little Swift at New Brighton. Holy Apus! It wouldn't stick though, would it? No, of course it wouldn't. So we carried on with our original plans. A few minutes later and another news message later and we cracked. Half an hour later and we were pulling up into the car park at New Brighton. We were expecting brief and probably distant views of the bird... so it was a pleasant surprise when the bird flew over the car at head height before we'd even stepped out.
The bird was feeding over the car park and along the river embankment; it was often low, flying by within a metre or two of the assembled crowd! And it often flew low over the sand, giving a nice chance for a top view. Sadly, both Fabian and I had left our camera/large lens combos at home — but Faab did have his 28–50 mm lens with him... and that was good enough!
Here's my effort with just an iPhone:
And a slightly iffy video (there's more action in the second half):
Here's a few of Faab's photos; there are more on his blog:
The bird looked amazingly fresh, with pale fringes to all of the wing feathers (including a thin trailing edge to the wing) — photos back up what we could see in the field (e.g. see Jason Atkinson's blog); photos also show pale fringes to e.g. the upper tail coverts, which I hadn't seen in the field. Occasionally it looked like there was a break in the outer primaries but this seemed to come and go and I suspect it was just misplaced feathers rather than any actual damage (or moult). BWP states that eggs are laid mid-April. Incubation is c.20 days and birds fledge after c.40 days. That's a total of 60 days from laying to fledging, which — for a bird from an early nesting pair — would put fledging around mid-June. So, the plumage fits with the bird being a juvenile and, assuming this bird was early hatched, so does the timing.
But back to the white loaf. Fabian and I spent most of yesterday afternoon/evening building a wire walk-in trap to put in the garden with the aim of catching Woodpigeons and other large birds. We deployed the trap this morning with mixed results: one retrap Robin (the male of the breeding pair) and two Grey Squirrels. At least the garden is now squirrel free...
The trap has been baited for the reminder of the afternoon but so far nothing. Fingers crossed for tomorrow.