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Saturday, 5 November 2016

Cliff Swallow at Minsmere

When news came through from BINS at 3.45pm that "a bird showing many characteristics of a Cliff Swallow" flying over the Visitors Centre at Minsmere, I almost fell off my seat at work! I was fervently hoping it would stay and go to roost in the reeds which it appeared to do when a message stated it was lost from view and later appeared to have gone to roost in reeds by Bittern Hide. Just before 7am, Robert Will, Ricky & myself turned into the car park at Minsmere which appeared strangely only half full. As it was already light (it appeared at about 6.40am) we decided to walk to west hide and look west at the reedbed. As we waited, a large Egret which could only have been a Great White Egret flew west. We saw Justin & Chris L, and Andrew E and Paul & Jane F here and we got news at around 7.20 that there were hirundine flying around the Sand Martin colony. People broke out into a run, but having pulled a muscle in my leg I could only hobble along. I got to the Sand Martin colony area, and could see the hirundine wheeling about Andrew E said its the one on the left and I first got my bins on a Swallow and then a dark bird, a small thickset Martin with an almost square shaped tail, it was the excellent American Cliff Swallow but it quickly flew left and out of sight. We dashed up to the car park and again saw the birds quickly wheeling around and then right and out of sight. They were then seen flying high over the east and then south scrape they then flew inland and over trees by the Bittern hide, where we lost them behind trees. After around half an hour, we heard they were flying around the north wall bushes by the Stonie field and rushing to the cliff top behind the old visitor centre area just right of the Sand Martin colony we saw the 8 hirundines, the Cliff Swallow was easily picked out looking superficially HM like but with dark drown plumage a pale buffy rump, and a pale rufous nape shawl, whitish on the forehead and chin with buffy rufous on the breast and top side flanks otherwise the underparts were whitish proving it was a 1st winter bird. It was flying around with the other hirundines and when the other alighted on a bush it joined them perching on the extreme left hand end! .

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