Sunday, 29 March 2015

urban birding (29 March - Alpine Swift and tern-billed Gull)

I really do not enjoy urban birding and it takes something rather special for me to consider it. An Alpine Swift presumed to have roosted on the Virgin Atlantic Building in Manor Royal, Crawley was too tempting despite a poor forecast and a live Grand Prix on the BBC.  I arrived on site at 07:00 BST to find about 20 others gathered but the bird had not been seen.  After a couple of hours with no sign observers started drifting off and soon after 10:00 it appeared that Tony Cook, Gordon Beck and I were the only ones left.  The weather brightened and for a minute the sun broke through but still no sign of the bird along the sheltered side of the building where we were concentrating on watching.   Five minutes later we heard Lee Evans shouting 'did you see it'. No!  It had flown out of the front of the building and off due north. He and another had been in their cars out of view from us.  Lee had heard the other car door slam, which had woken him from a nap, and seen the bird fly directly over.  We had been looking in the wrong direction, bummer.  I assumed that it had gone but as it was not yet raining decided to wait at the Virgin Atlantic building in case it returned.  The others drove off to check other areas but 20 minutes later it came over my head and cruised around the building.  I quickly phoned Lee and Gordon at the bird performed well for an hour or so, disappearing for  20 minutes or so before returning.  It was flying very close to the building looking as if it was trying to land which it soon did, clinging to the top of the brickwork under the eaves.  Very nice.  While waiting for the swift I saw a pair of Grey Wagtails, a Jay and heard a Black Redstart.  It was also nice ot catch up with some friends.  Maybe urban birding isn't so bad after all.

Alpine Swift just visible behind the rain spots roosting on the Virgin Atlantic Building

I was too slow to take identifiable flight images 
not correcting for a light(ish) background didn't help either
much easier when it was still
although its head being in view would have been nice!
 It was low tide when I got back to Shoreham so I had a look at the gulls on the Adur

gulls on the Adur

North Thames H4NT.  Another North Thames bird was present but too distant to read.
 In 2005 there was a Gull-billed Tern on the Adur for several days in late May.  Now almost 10 years later a good contender for a tern-billed gull was present.

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