Saturday, 15 June 2013

Pacific Swift in Suffolk

I recently got accused of losing it - the impetus to see rares that is (following on from my comments about the Bee-eater in Kent last Sunday). So while the accuser is seeing his owls and woodpeckers in Finland, it was time to put the record straight at 10.45am today.

I had a bad start to the day, going to Tesco to buy some bread, only to find that 'my' Long-tailed Duck that I was going to entice had done a bunk from Canada Water. I got back to Greenland Dock to check out 'my boys' (even Karen realises that when I say this, she knows it's the local gulls). Then came one of those numbing moments when the dulcit tone of the Mega Alert starting to go off, announcing that a Pacific Swift had been found at Trimley, Suffolk at 10.40am.

Within 30 seconds, I was in my trusty Focus and on the road. The adrenalin of chasing a Class A rare was back. Pacific Swift is no Bee-eater, it's no run of the mill dross that is a weekend filler if little else is about - during the day twitches like this are what us boys live for. One hour and 45 minutes later, I pulled in along the lane and parked up with news of the swift's continued presence. I'd only ever been to Trimley once before (for a stonking summer plumaged adult White-winged Black Tern in June '96), but I remembered that it was a fair walk. This time, the walk turned into a jog and to be honest it wasn't too far. But far enough when there's a big bird, that could fly off any minute, at the end of it. Josh J, Matt M, Justin L and Shaun H joined in the fun - including some news that it had done one only to return - but after half an hour or so, we clapped eyes on the crowd and this is what was waiting for us: -

Pacific Swift Trimley SWT, Suffolk 15th June 2013
The bird itself was pretty sweet, nice and scythe shaped with a more attenuated rear end and obvious forked tail compared to the hundreds of Common Swifts. Especially in the sunshine it was obviously browner - not quite Alpine Swift brown, but getting there - and its flight was slightly more laborious, with more leisurely and deeper wingbeats.

I spent a couple of hours on site, just lapping it up. It's not often that a bird turns up these days when I haven't got any other commitments. I managed to get into the hide for a little bit of papping, and the walk back to the car was nicely timed just before the heavens opened. Good to see the likes of John P and Alan C, as it's not often I get dragged out of London on a summer's day these days.

Anyway, Pacific Swift is my first new WP bird of the year, though hopefully I'll get a couple more next month in Egypt. And it has been a bonkers start to 2013 for me on the British scene, what with the Pine Grosbeak and the Svensson endorsed Dusky Thrush. Bring on the autumn for more tickage please.

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