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Saturday, 15 June 2013

MEGA: PACIFIC SWIFT in Suffolk






Jonny Rankin found and identified a PACIFIC SWIFT at Trimley Marshes SWT Reserve (Suffolk) mid morning sparking off a major twitch.........


The bird was flying back and forth over the lagoons between the third and last hides from the Trimley St Mary end and was showing well, often scything just yards from the ground. Jonny announced his colossal find on 'Twitter' and within minutes, twitchers from as far afield as Somerset, South Wales, Newcastle, Cleveland, Lancashire and even Fife were on their way. Feeding with up to 70 Common Swifts, the bird continued showing until early afternoon, but with a slight improvement in weather, suddenly set off west and flew around three miles along the Orwell to just beyond Levington Marina. It was away for around 20 minutes before returning with Swifts and then did another 90 minute stint before some serious weather arrived from the southwest. A dynamic thunderstorm crossed the reserve bringing hail and strong winds, the Swift flock all moving in front of it and heading for the village. Miraculously, once the first spell of weather moved quickly away east, the flock and Pacific straggler returned after 45 minutes, the vagrant then settling back to a routine and showing almost non-stop until at least 2100 hours

Rather surprisingly, at any given time, the crowd never increased on 100 observers, and for some bizarre reason, just 420 observers had connected by nightfall - perhaps the weather and long walk were just too much for most to endure. After 20 years, one of Britain's leading and finest birders (Chris Heard) finally connected with this incredibly difficult-to-catch-up-with Asiatic rares, as well as a further 75 with lists over 500 species.

It is interesting to speculate on this particular individual. Could it be the bird seen and photographed in Sweden at Kvismare, Narke, on 15 May and later seen flying south over Spurn (East Yorks) on 12 June and over Saltfleetby (North Lincs) later that same day? Or has it been lingering in this area of south Suffolk since first photographed at East Lane Pits, Bawdsey, on 29 May? I suspect we are dealing with two different individuals.

Top bird photographer Paul Rowe obtained the four shots at the top of the page whilst enthusiastic lister Jay Ward obtained this selection below as he sat beside me in the hide