Pacific Swift: new to the Western Palearctic

Published on 01 February 1990 in Main articles

Waiden on the deck the Shell BT gasplatform on the Leman at 02°12’E, 45 km On 19th June 1981, when aBank was53°06’N to Happisburgh, Norfolk, bird attempted his It then flew past him and clung to a wall on the rig. He caught the exhausted migrant at about 13.30 GMT, and sent it ashore on the next helicopter flight for release, as caring rig-workers often do. At 19.30 GMT, the helicopter arrived at Beccles Heliport in Suffolk, where I work. Mrs S. Irons rang me from the passenger terminal to say she had just been handed a swift which seemed unable to fly; knowing I was a birdwatcher, she asked if I could help. To my astonishment, the bird lying on her cardigan was indeed a swift, but with a startling white rump and all theupper body feathers pale-tipped, giving a very scaly appearance. My colleagues were somewhat startled when I reacted by running around closing all the windows. At first, I assumed that it was one of the two European white-rumped species–Little Swift Apus qffinis or White-rumped Swift A. caffer. This bird, however, had an obvious forked tail, so I discounted Little Swift. I phoned C. S. Waller, who promptly arrived, measured, photographed and took a description of the swift. At this point, identification as White-rumped Swift was also discounted because of the dimensions, but CSW had information only on European birds with him, so the bird’s identification remained a mystery. While we were measuring and examining

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