Wednesday, 3 August 2016

third time lucky for a third 'purple' bird in Britain?

Bird names often include colours but purple rarely features in them, at least not in Britain. There is the regular but rather inappropriately named Purple Sandpiper and over the years I've seen a few Purple Herons. There are also three records of American Purple Gallinule (two found dead and one moribund) but so far that is it. [Just been reminded by DC that there was a short staying Purple Martin on the Hebrides too.] Possibly that is about to change with the appearance of a Purple Swamphen at Minsmere. The 'species' has occurred before but previous records were considered escapes, officially at least. I had seen two (Norfolk in September 1978 and Cambridge in July 1998) although with recent changes in taxonomy they might have been a slightly different swamphen. Was it worth going for a third? Initially I thought not but news of several sightings north of their breeding range in France added to the Minsmere birds credibility. It was also the most likely type of swamphen, in good plumage and without signs of captivity so it seemed as good as one was likely to get. A bit slow off the mark I went up with John and Doreen Cooper on 3rd August and we saw it well, but rather distantly. A surprisingly smart bird. It was also nice to see old friends Franko Maroevic and Richard Drew for the first time in years (20+ in Richard's case) as well as Terry Cooper, Jake Everitt and Owen Mitchell.

Purple Swamphen at Minsmere

not sure it is really very purple but more so than the other purple birds seen in Britian

Greyling at Minsmere
I can't remember seeing one before, it was bigger than I was expectinng
Stone Curlew
not having a good breeding season, this pair had lost both its broods, presumably to crows

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