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Tuesday, 25 June 2013

RED RED ALERT - NEEDLE-TAILED SWIFT on the Outer Hebrides

A NEEDLE-TAILED SWIFT has spent the last hour and a half flying back and forth over Tarbert Harbour and hamlet on Harris (Outer Hebrides). The bird is showing very well and is rumoured to have been first seen yesterday afternoon by local residents. It is the first sighting of this species in the UK since June 1991, when one moved from Wierton Hill Reservoir, Maidstone (Kent), on 26th May north to Blithfield Reservoir (Staffs) on 1st June and subsequently to Belper (Derbyshire) on 3rd June and the island of Noss (Shetland) on 11th & 14th June.

Prior to that there had been just six records - two in the 19th Century (in Essex in July 1846 and in Hampshire in July 1879) and a run of records from 1983 to 1988 most likely involving one regularly returning individual - on South Ronaldsay (Orkney) on 11-12 June 1983, at Loch of Hillwell (Shetland) from 25 May to 6 June 1984, at Fairburn Ings (West Yorks) on 27 May 1985 and on the island of Hoy (Orkney) from 28 May to 8 June 1988 (LGRE)

And, in addition to the listed British records, one occurred at Cape Clear Island, Cork on 20th June 1964, where it was present for 20 minutes and viewed at ranges down to 10 feet (*IBR* 12, p30). The ultimate "blocker"! (Killian Mullarney)