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Saturday, 28 April 2012

Alpine Swift Asda bonus!

A quick look this morning at Leathes Ham, revealed the female Goosander sat on her usual log, little else. Following a trip to Southwold, we had to do some food shopping and I persuaded Jenny that we should shop at Asda rather than Morrisons (her preferred choice) and at 3.20pm we arrived at the Asda car park in front of the Grain silo, what a good choice that proved to be! I first saw a Swift flypast. The weather was overcast, NE wind of BS 4/5 scale and there was initially a fine "mizzle" of rain. I then quickly retrieved my binoculars from the car and wanted to check another very interesting larger looking "Swift" at around 3.25pm (perhaps 1/3 size bigger and a larger more "swollen/bulging body like a very well fed bird!" than an ordinary Swift) that looked big and very interesting! It flew past and right at half way height in front of the Grain silo, it had a white chest and a brown body, the bird was an incredible and fantastic Alpine Swift and I had just found it!!! It flew rather energetically in circles around the grain silo, obviously hawking for insects and it continued circling around several times and then it flew towards me and right over my head at close quarters and I was able to make out the white throat and brown upper breast band, contrasting dramatically with the rest of the white underparts, upper and mid breast and body. The white throat was difficult to make out from any distance. The rear body and undertail coverts. appeared dark but when it flew overhead I could see it was dark brown. It had an obvious deep notched tail and "musclely wings" because of the slow wing action and deep beats (making it appear almost Falcon- like, particularly Hobby-like in flight!) which contrasted with the quicker wing action of the Common Swift seen earlier. I quickly "tweeted" the news out at 3.30pm and sent a message to Suffolk BINS, I also immediately rang Andrew E. On the upperparts of the Alpine Swift, the body was a medium plain sand grey- brown colouration appearing slightly darker grey- brown on/nearer the wing tips. It then appeared to fly strongly east and out of sight. Derek B arrived and I thought the Alpine had gone but Chris M also appeared form the western end of Asda and said the bird had flown up onto the shuttered "window" of the grain silo. We walked to the western end of Asda to try and relocate it, Richard S then appeared and I spotted the Alpine Swift again flying right half way up and in front of the grain silo and a beaming James B and Andrew E appeared. Jane & Paul soon appeared and Jane was particularly anxious to see it, fortunately the bird was still flying around the grain silo and they saw it too. panic over! Ali R and Roy arrived. But the Alpine Swift was obviously getting tired of the increasingly inclement weather, had flown back up onto and under one of the air/ vents/ window as if it was going to roost at 4.06pm. taking Jenny home, I drove back to Asda, the weather had worsened, it was now raining steadily and Phil H was sheltering under one of the Pines, whilst the others were in the dry and warm at the Asda cafe (great choice!), newly joined by Steve J who'd received his tweet rather fortuitously as he disembarked a train at Lowestoft rail station so he'd seen it was also good to see Rob Win too. We also saw an excellent Peregrine which flew around and flew to the top of the building. What a real Asda bonus, on the rare bird front, Asda is now miles ahead of Tesco's it's a longtime since the Black- bellied Dipper at Gunton.

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