Saturday, 15 April 2017

How my mum almost found a Red-rumped Swallow

Easter for me normally means a trip back to Suffolk to visit my parents, and this Easter is no different. They had booked us a meal out at lunchtime today, but had left it too late for their first choice in Southwold, so we went to Orford instead. The table was booked for 12:15, earlier than they'd wanted, but this meant we got out onto an afternoon walk earlier than we otherwise would have done. Various options for a walk within the vicinity of Orford were discussed, including Staverton Thicks, but I'd managed to steer us towards Boyton Marshes (in the hope of some migrants).

Upon arriving I had very brief and frustrating views of a ringtail harrier as I rounded the end of the barns by the parking area at Boyton, just before it flew over a hedge and dropped out of sight. My impression was that it looked quite narrow winged, but the views were such that I couldn't ID it. It had been heading NW, so when we reached the sea wall I requested that we turn left, in that direction. Had we arrived a few seconds later, and I'd missed the harrier, the plan had been to turn right...

But turn left we did, walking as far as the foot ferry, turning back inland towards Butleyferry Farm, and then retracing our steps. Just before getting back to the sea wall, my mum asked 'is that a Swallow?'. Raising my bins, the bird I saw was indeed a swallow - a Red-rumped Swallow! It cruised overhead, no more than 20 feet up, before drifting south. It then became apparent that my mum was watching another bird - but her's was House Martin, and in checking it out I lost the RRS - but at least it meant she hadn't beaten me to a self-found tick..!

This was at about 15:30. Lack of mobile signal meant I couldn't get news out straight away, but 10 minutes later the bird reappeared, heading north with a handful of Swallows and House Martins, and I scoped it until I lost it over Burrow Hill. This time I managed to find some signal and tweeted the news out, although getting my geography slightly wrong in the excitement (and autocorrect on my phone amusingly changing rumped to 'rumpled'). Unfortunately there was no chance of digiscoping it.

It just goes to show how much chance can go into finding a decent bird. Who knows what I may've found had we had a table booked in Southwold at 1pm and then gone for a walk on the Blyth... probably nothing at all.

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