Friday, 24 May 2013

Second chance

Beddington's second Red-rumped Swallow of the spring.
A fortnight ago, my Sunday was almost ruined by a Red-rumped Swallow. Almost. The fact that the bird turned up at Beddington Farmlands, on the opposite side of London, when I was about to head out for the day with Mrs Birdingetc would have been more than a little unfortunate - except that this locally mega hirundine appeared to move straight through, taking with it any hopes of a much-needed London tick, but in the process preserving my domestic arrangements.

Unlike the first, this one stayed all day and performed well over the Main Lake.
Today, remarkably, a Red-rumped Swallow was again at Beddington - surely a different bird at this well-watched site, where there have been no sightings of the species in the intervening two weeks. And today, I was about to head out of the door for Rainham when the news broke, so the timing was admirable; better still, it was tipping down, making it considerably more likely that the bird would stay for at least a while.

Red-rumped Swallow was my 289th species in the London recording area.
So I teamed up with Bob Watts and we set out on a cross-city road journey which, on the Friday before Bank Holiday weekend, took as long as it normally takes me to get to Norfolk. En route David Campbell tipped us off that the bird was still there, and eventually we arrived to learn from Peter Alfrey that it was continuing to linger - result! The best part of the next hour was spent watching and photographing it as it fed low over the Main Lake in the company of a group of Barn Swallows and a single House Martin. What a terrific little hirundine, with its navy, rust and peach tones, forked tailed and frequent glides during active flight - after a while, as is often the case with this species, it became easy to pick the bird out by flight style alone, even when it was distant. More uniquely distinctive were the patches of white feathering on the upperparts, which made it stand out and, when seen well, individually identifiable (another reason why it was likely a different bird to the one a fortnight ago).

The curious white flecking on the upperparts makes this individual rather distinctive.
After thanking Peter for letting us in to this restricted site, we nabbed a quick Tree Sparrow (Beddington still being the London hot-spot for this species, though they are apparently doing badly this year), heard a Yellow Wagtail call and then spent a mere two and a half hours driving home through traffic hell. But for views of this superb species as close as 10 metres, every minute was worth it.

1 comment:

  1. Nice bird.... well worth the long drive to see it !

    ReplyDelete

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...