Thursday 5 January 2023

York's First Pallid Swifts

The UK has seen an impressive influx of Pallid Swifts in the last week or two. Not unprecedented per se, but exceptional in the number of birds that have been swept up from the Mediterranean by southerly winds. Most Common Swifts have departed Europe by August, whereas Pallid Swifts continue to breed much later, with the latest fledging in southern Spain in the second week of October (BWP). With this in mind, it is highly likely that virtually all of the swifts reported during this influx are Pallids and certainly all of the birds seen well and/or photographed have proven to be this species.

Following Andrew Schofield's brief sighting of a 'swift species' over Bolton Percy on the 24th October, another was seen over Thorganby on Sunday and this seems to be a Pallid from photographs. 

On 1st November, Adam Firth spotted a swift from his house at Elvington moving towards Wheldrake. It was relocated from the Bank Island platform a little later by Tim Jones as it moved back north where I was fortunate enough to see the bird flying along over the fields distantly; sadly too distantly to aid with the idenfication, beyond 'swift sp.'! The bird was feeding mainly to the north of Bank Island around Cheesecake Farm and at one point fed low over Bank Island itself, allowing three observers including Craig Ralston and Dave Waudby to confirm the identity of the bird as a Pallid Swift. This may be the same bird that was seen over Thorganby two days previously, but with such a major influx taking place in the UK currently, it is just as likely to be a different bird. 

It remains to be seen what BBRC make of these three records, but I am optimistic that the Thorganby and Bank Island birds are accepted. Exciting times! 

I have been fortunate to co-find a Pallid Swift in Yorkshire before, at Flamborough Head back in 2011 - see here

Pic by Audun Eriksen

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