Sunday, 7 October 2012


it was 08:08 this morning, when a flock of four hirundines flew past me on my circuit of Hope Gap, heading NE. Three were House Martins, but when I got on the back bird I knew it had to be something different. It was, to be quite frank, one of the briefest views I have ever had of a hirundine, but despite thinking over every other alternative, making myself doubt my identity, and not quite believing my initial ID, I can't think of anything this bird could have been other than a RED-RUMPED SWALLOW.

As I first got on it, I noticed the pale rump, ruling out Swallow or Sand Martin. My immediate impression from shape was that is lacked the short, forked tail of a House Martin, and it had long, elegant shape and long tail streamers of a hirundo species, and appeared even longer-tailed than a Swallow. The birds uppersides had a distinctive colouration, not as dark and navy-blue as the House Martin's it accompanied, more light blue-ish black in colour, and not as deep blue and glossy as the uppersides of a Swallow. But before I could see any more detail it was flying away from me, and all I could see was the back view. However, the flight was immediately reminiscent of the hundreds I saw in Bulgaria a month ago. It had wingbeats that were deep but also sharp, giving the impression that the bird was flicking it's wings with every beat, and it was less 'fluttery' than the House Martins it accompanied. This was interspersed with occasional periods of gliding; but it was only on view for another 30 seconds or so, before this hirundine flock disappeared from view.

At first I rather doubted myself, it took a minute for it to sink in what I had seen, and in the blind panic of those crucial seconds it was on view I had failed to note whether the bird had a red-rumps pale, buffish collar on the nape! The rump also seemed too pale at first, but remembering my experience with Red-rumps in Bulgaria in strong sunlight it was consistent with those birds. I fear the SOSRC might not put through a red-rump if I failed to notice the nape-collar, but I'm happy with the identification at any rate, despite mulling it over again and again til my head hurt.

Aside from the Swallow, it was a phenomenal day at Seaford Head, and here are my counts

Mistle Thrush-1
Song Thrush-3
Pied Wagtail-105
Yellow Wagtail-5
Grey Wagtail-4
Meadow Pipit-325
Tree Pipit-3
House Martin-80
Common Sandpiper-1

I was then back up at Harry's Bush an hour after getting home, when Nick Pope found a YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER. Needless to say, I failed to see it. I'd write some more detail on am amazing day but right now I'm shattered!

the first frosty morning at Seaford Head
sunrise over the patch

Blue Tit, on Seaford Head Golf Course

a group of Jackdaw on the fence running parallel to the Golf Course

 hundreds of Goldfinch were in this flock at Hope Gap!!!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Liam, I see that you have now retracted this record because of the possibility of a hybrid, although i'm sure its disappointing, I'm certain you will gain a great deal of respect for this and people will be able to see that you are being very thorough with your records. The good birds will come in their own time.
    Have you seen this (tues 16th), also i'm pretty sure the single siter Rumper at Titchwell won't get retracted ;-)