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Sunday, 31 July 2016

"Under the radar" with the Purple Swamphen at Minsmere

A long day out in the field and I was relieved to get back home and do some cooking and housework in readiness to entertain guests on Monday. Checking the computer I couldn't quite believe that a Purple Swamphen was at Minsmere in the pool behind the South hide!! Was it plastic or fantastic, to quote a well known song lyric? Could it be an introduction scheme bird? Minsmere tweeted initially it was an escape but when they later tweeted it was unringed the consensus moved to it being a wild bird. I flew into action and around 40 minutes later was pulling into the car park quickly followed by ace digiscoper Craig. After some confusion about whether permits were required after 4pm on a Sunday, apparently they were! This held me up for 10 minutes, not good for a potential 1st for Britain! I finally ran down the path behind the South hide. Even though, I'd dropped everything to get there as quick as possible, the info I had received half hour before I'd picked it up because my phone doesn't bleep on alerts! James B, Rob Will were there & Rob told me to go the far end and look to the far side of the pool on the right hand end. Once in position. A shout went up after 10 minutes, but there were no directions and I missed it on the first 2 times it showed briefly, as it quickly went back into the reeds. A kind lady explained that it was indeed over the far side but in a more central position (and not the far right). Finally, I saw it walk out a big dark purple bird, aptly named with a deep purple plumage and big red bill and facial shield. Smoke on the Water indeed! It was the superb Purple Swamphen. It then walked out again and walked right. It was then seen several times, its longish red legs showed no rings and the really long feet seen caked in mud. It then disappeared in and out of the reeds. For the next 20 minutes it played cat and mouse occasionally showing well before popping back in to the reeds. But when some people thought it was moving closer, I spotted it walk around the reedy fringe (partly concealed by reeds) in the mid distance (I called this out) and then it walked right behind this much closer reed edge and I again saw it walking right half way down (I again called this out). I obtained some shots, one came really well. Moving down, the Swamphen later moved quickly very left, literally sprinting past the corner again! Later arrivals included Steve G, Rob H, Maurice B and OFB, JHG, Chris D, and Andrew E. from Links road car park, 1 common tern seen on the groins and 5 Common Terns seen flying over the sea, plus a transitional summer/ winter plumaged unringed adult Mediterranean Gull quickly spotted on the car park before as always, a car flushed it and it flew off. Why does this always happen every time, I find a Med Gull on the car park then a car appears and always flushed them so I can't get any pics????!

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