Strange Swift at Delta Park

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11 years 10 months ago #325 by Doug
Doug created the topic: Strange Swift at Delta Park
Geoff Lockwood sent the following email to SA Birdnet.
Any foreign guests have any ideas?

Hi the Net



Yesterday afternoon (27/12/2005) while undertaking a survey walk in Delta Park I had two encounters with a large pale swift that was actively feeding in a mixed swallow/ swift flock low over the park. The first view was at 16h45 and took place on the lawns to the west of the Delta Environmental Centre - between the Centre and the Standard Drive Car Park. The sighting was brief as the bird passed over rapidly - but low overhead before disappearing behind a tree. I got on to it again twice more for brief views before the flock moved off. First impressions were of a largish (about the size of African Black Swift) pale swift which was only slightly darker in colour than the Palm Swifts that were also in the flock – i.e. a greyish-brown rather than sooty-brown/black swift. A diffuse whitish throat was visible. The tail was shallowly forked with the outer rectrices more bluntly rounded than pointed.



About thirty minutes later I again had views of what was presumably the same bird – this time over the open lawns along the northern border of the Park down towards the Florence Bloom Bird Sanctuary. Viewing conditions were a lot more favourable - with open sky permitting extended viewing, and with the late afternoon lighting coming from behind me as I viewed the bird. I was able to watch the bird for approximately three minutes at distances ranging from about thirty meters to several hundred meters and was able to get good to reasonable views of both the underside and upperside of the bird in this time. The bird eventually moved off in an easterly direction towards Sandton City. Other species that were flying with the mystery bird were White-rumped-, Little-, and Palm Swifts as well as Greater Striped-, Barn- and White-throated Swallows and Common House Martin



The first impression of a pale grayish-brown swift was confirmed but, with better views, some pale barring or scaling on the lower flanks could be seen. The inner wing coverts also appeared slightly darker than the rest of the underwing, but with paler fringes – giving a rather scaled appearance. As the bird flew directly towards me on two occasions, the whitish throat was again visible and in addition I could see that the front (forehead) was also pale (although it was not possible to be sure how far back onto the crown the whitish area extended). The area around the eye contrasted noticeably with the pale throat and frons.

From above, there was no obvious contrast between the mantle and the rest of the upperwing, or between the wing coverts and the secondaries.



I ruled out African Black- and Common Swifts (which I know well) and am also not happy with Bradfield’s (another bird that I know fairly well) as the jizz was not right – the bird did not have the ‘chunky feel’ of that species, and the scaling on the underparts which is usually a feature of the underparts of Bradfield’s Swift was restricted only to a narrow area of the lower flanks in this bird. Mottled Swift was ruled out as the ‘mystery’ bird was not large enough and the barring on the underparts was not extensive enough. Tail shape rules out Scarce Swift - which leaves me with Pallid Swift (or maybe an immature/ sub-adult of one of the other species) as a possibility.



I have no experience of this species and would appreciate any comments or suggestions from the Net.



Geoff Lockwood

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11 years 10 months ago #340 by Doug
Doug replied the topic:
Hi all.

Gordon and I, while starting the year with a walk around Delta Park, relocated the strange swift that Geoff had reported in late december.

Keep an eye out if you are there.

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