Posts Tagged ‘Pallid Swift


Paled into significance

I was beginning to form an opinion that identifying Pallid Swifts from Common Swifts in the UK was beyond the capability of normal mortals. That is until I saw the four birds that roosted this evening on the cliffs at Cromer. They showed remarkably well in excellent light and at close range. All the identification features on these avian knives of the air stood out like a silver shilling up a sweeps a**e.

Are four birds together a UK record does anyone know?


Light and easy

Pallid Swifts within Norfolk during November are regular but always a little contentious. They are never easy to distinguish from Common Swifts. Even photographs can be a little confusing and it’s not too difficult to inadvertently change a common to a pallid during processing. Time must be taken to watch the birds in a variety of light from various positions. It’s only then that distinguishing features can be clinched such as the dark eye, the darker saddle and underbody, darker primaries and leading edge of the wing that contrast with paler coverts and secondaries, the paler head and throat and the slightly shallower tail fork as well as paler feather edgings on the flanks. The feature of a blunter wing tip on Pallid is not as easy to distinguish as literature states and in my opinion varies from bird to bird. I guess it is one of those features that is dependant on it’s attitude in the air.

A message from Ben today stating he had a Pallid hawking along the cliff top at Overstrand saw me make a diversion from the shops in Cromer to the cliffs above the golf course. The light was immaculate as it frequently is in Norfolk and we were looking north to watch the bird hawking in front of the cliffs. Although relatively distant the bird’s milky coloured plumage was immediately apparent. However it took a while for the bird to come closer so the other features could be seen but in the end the identity of the bird was unquestionable.

Today’s Swift was in the company of a white rumped hirundine. Shame it was only a House Martin!



A Surfeit of Swifts

Tim saw it first. The scythe of a crescent cut the air this morning at Happisburgh. No Radde’s Warbler, but on the windy ridge of the church, a Pallid Swift was consolation.

A phone call from Paul midday told of another over Temple Wood and it was heading my way. One of these beasts over the garden would be good. I stood willing it to fly by; and guess what? It did!

As I stood on the lawn I was treated to a flypast worthy of a Spitfire. The features stood out as if someone held up a field guide. When I returned with my camera it was on the horizon – you can’t have everything.

I followed it and over the cliff top fields it performed wonderfully.

Two birds … this darker bird and the paler Cromer individual were together over Northrepps at one point. I feel the Happisburgh bird was the darker individual relocating further north west.

2013 10 2013 Pallid Swift Trimingham Norfolk_Z5A6727

Note the length of the second primary

2013 10 2013 Pallid Swift Trimingham Norfolk_Z5A6781

… and the deep fork in the tail

2013 10 2013 Pallid Swift Trimingham Norfolk_Z5A6785

primary length again …

2013 10 2013 Pallid Swift Trimingham Norfolk_Z5A6827

… and look at that eye patch and throat colour.


Pallid Swift over Cromer

Awesome views of Pallid Swift today over Cromer in evening sunshine with at least two Swallows. Possibly went to roost in the church.

Pallid Swift

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Feb 2023


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