by Martin G.
I think this is my first ever solo observer ‘rarity’ record. Of course it would go and involve a species that’s reckoned to be one of the trickiest identification challenges in British birding. A briefly seen fly by Pallid Swift claim. I am tempted just to hide away and say nothin’!
In short I took our dog Ebony for an evening walk, last Saturday evening (26th Oct.) near North Landing Flamborough. I wasn’t expecting to see much but my first Ring Ouzel of the autumn was very welcome. It was hard to see but having manged a couple of photos of it diving into a bush I approached for a closer view. I then noticed a swift sp. flying towards me. I literally thought ‘Oh No!” I knew this could be good, or torture. I identified this bird as Pallid for myself within about 15 seconds- structure really good, big pale face, pale brown ‘window’ from below (secondaries and inner primaries) and obvious brown tones glimpsed on upperparts. Not much though, and all a little subjective! Then it flew further away and into low harsh light and as it did I grabbed my camera and rattled off a few images, before putting news out. The whole encounter might have lasted about a minute (or less!) . Despite a good effort put in by friends the bird could not be located and wasn’t seen again.
Ring Ouzel diving into bush in Homes Gut. Just before a swift appeared…
The images are poor. The bird is flying into low evening light, at some distance from me, so they are heavily cropped. I was very curious to see what ‘evidence’ could be obtained in this brief fly by view. Of course I had my own field observation and impression… and these photos.
I have had some feedback on these photos from 3 friends. I will put these comments up later, but before then, given some interest in the challenges of Common and Pallid Swift ID (views, light, experience, pros and cons of photographs etc) I wondered if some might like to have a look at the images that I have had to wrestle with:
and if you are bored with Pallid Swift stuff- then perhaps you can appreciate this ending to an email from Swedish birder, Hans Larsson I got a couple of days ago:
BTW, I went to our only prominent cliffs in my part of the province of Scania yesterday in hope for a Pallid. To my surprise I did found a Swift, but it turned out to be a White-rumped! Still in shock today…