Temptation proved too great to resist a trip to Suffolk!
(pics to come, not loading!)
Connor and I arrived at Westleton Heath, with good directions from DA, and positioned ourselves with nearly 100 others. After a debate over a Sparrowhawk perched distantly, a call came that someone thought he had seen 'the' bird. After a short while the adult (?) male Lesser Kestrel flew up and perched in full view. Although distant, the clean slate blue head (and upper tail), russet upperparts and rich black wingtips were easily noted. Occasionally the blue flash in the wing was noted, as well as the long tapering tail and extended centre tail feathers and deep black terminal band. The bird flew down to the ground feeding and returned into view, often on the same perch by the hut. It moved deeper into cover as rain set on (but was seen on and off until mid afternoon).
For an idea of the views, see here:
After checking out the sight at Kessingland, we decided to go and see if the two Alpine Swift were still at Lowestoft. There was no sign at their previous roost site and it was suggested that they might have departed the evening before. So we returned to Kessingland and spent c 1 hour hoping the Pallid Swift would appear - it didn't. Just as despondency was setting in news came that the two Alpine Swift had been refound slightly further N of the original roost site. We decided to leave our vigil and return, finding the birds roosting on the side of a red brick block of flats.As we were waiting for them to fly, news came through that the Pallid had been seen! So a return trip was immediately taken!
There was no sign as we arrived at the Caravan Park, it was being watched c 5 min earlier! We change the angle of observation, returning to where it had first been seen. Just as I was going to relieve myself (don't worry - there was a toilet block!) the Pallid Swift reappeared, although rather distantly. Another change of venue gave much better views, with the bird nearly appearing overhead. The blunt winged, heavy chested and large headed appearance was noted, as well as plumage features such as pale throat and fringes to upperparts and scaled belly. After watching this for about 30 mins we heard that the Alpine Swifts at Lowestoft had taken flight, so we decided to return.
Arriving back at the site, we found one of the Swifts had moved, but both were now roosting together in the corner of the building. However, after a short wait they began to take flight, circling and feeding around our heads and continually returning to their roost site. They occasionally called as they roosted together, with comments that they were acting a a definite 'pair'. We left before the third bird flew south, but can't complain with our 'haul', especially considering the overcast and dank weather.
What a morning!
PS two other year ticks were seen, but it's too embarrassing to list them here!!
LGRE's account of the Suffok Spectacular can be found here:
Norfolk Bird Info to:
Norfolk 364 BOU, 376 UK400, Year 170, Route 122, Sp 85, SM 87, SF 38