While the southern half of the country is awash with rare subtropical migrant moths things are more sedate up in the far north east of England. Still, I have had a Scarce Bordered Straw and a Pearly Underwing so cant complain. I had hopes of a Crimson Speckled but now I see that not only are they very rare ( still) they are even rarer in a moth trap, with most sightings being out in the field. At Dungeness, moth-ers have taken to dragging a washing line between two of them, lightly over short vegetation in an attempt to lift one up. Ah well...
Back in the real world, on Saturday afternoon I had arranged to meet Sally, a mycologist ( fungi observer) on our estate where I hoped she could identify some of the tricky ones for me. As it turned out our wires became crossed and the meeting didn't happen, but while I was sauntering around the cricket pitch, eyes to the deck looking for fungi, I was aware of thrushes flushing ahead of me.
The bushes here are decked with berries and good numbers of Blackbirds, Redwings and Song Thrushes were stocking up. While I watched a good sized party of Redwings head skywards, my eye rested on some other birds low down just above shrub height . SWIFTS!
Swifts? three of them to be precise. Now I've not even seen a hirundine here since September and not a Swift since late August, so this was a bit of a shock. I was also aware that NW Europe was having a Pallid Swift invasion.
As I watched these birds with the naked eye ( I had left my bins at home, you don't need them for mushrooms! What a muppet). The birds seemed to be feeding and not just passing through, so I put the word out on WhatsApp of 3 Swift sp present.
Straight away Dan Langston replied, 'On my way'. Thank goodness, Dan only lives a mile or so away and is well up on these things having already found two Pallids earlier this year. Better still he would be bearing optical gear.
Within minutes Dan arrived and we had the next half an hour watching the birds drifting back and forward across the sky over the pitch. At some angles they remained dark 'Swifts' as in sp, but when closer, in better light, it could be seen these were all Pallid Swifts. I've only ever seen two before, some years ago, so to have a multiple occurrence on patch was nothing short of amazing.
Dan rattled off some images, that showed enough to be sure, and at that, they slowly drifted north and out of sight.
Later Gary Woodburn had a single at Embleton Quarry that could have been one of ours and next morning three birds were over Amble and Warkworth for most of the day. With 4 up at St Abbs and dear knows how many in Yorkshire, its still worth keeping an eye on the sky.
Just make sure to have bins and camera with you!