A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Friday, 8 May 2015

Red-rumped Swallow at East Lane Park, Hull

Dipping Red-rumped Swallow on three previous occasions, this was becoming a bit of a personal nemesis bird for me, and one which seems to elude me every spring! Being quite hard to catch up with due to their nature of constantly being on the wing, birds often tend to drift off high or have a habit of disappearing overnight after seemingly going to roost! I’ve regretted not going for the Leasowe individual that was present all afternoon back in May 2011, and me and Alex had made it a personal mission to see one here in the UK this spring!

With news coming out just after 10 of one being found over the lake at East Lane Park in Hull, we weren’t sure whether this was just a flyover or whether it was sticking around for the day – their reputation for not hanging around long firmly in our minds.

However, after checking out the local Marston fishing pools for lingering Black Terns and receiving news that the swallow was still present over the lake at just after 12, we decided to make the 2 and a bit hour journey up to Hull and hopefully finally nail this elusive species!

Arriving at the park and eventually finding the bridge and lake in question, it became clear that the bird was doing some sort of circuit, disappearing for long periods of time and reappearing over the water only at certain intervals. We set up on the bridge and kept a watchful eye out, grilling any hirundines that crossed our line of view and constantly alert for anything that looked like a pale rump. I was initially concerned as the bird apparently hadn’t been seen since just after lunch and had only been showing distantly near the Poplar trees on some occasions, not ideal in trying to get a confirmed sighting!
East Lane Park, Hull
After about an hour’s wait with not many hirundines about bar the odd Sand or House Martin, we were encouraged somewhat by the sudden onset of a largeish flock above our heads, as well as several swallows flitting about near the water. With everyone looking towards the water, I turned around and clocked on to two swallows flying relatively close overhead. Thinking how great it’d be if one was our target, I raised my bins to be greeted with an exceptionally buff bellied coloured bird with an all dark tail flying directly over me. Looking suspiciously like our much sought after Red-rumped, I was in disbelief that I might have spotted it – especially after all these years of searching!
Red-rumped Swallow, Hull
Photographing it was especially difficult!

With its upper wings facing away from us, I needed to get a clear view of the rump to see that distinctive white and red patch. Luckily it banked in the sky exposing it’s back and…..oh my god. It’s white. “That’s it!”
Red-rumped Swallow, Hull
Hardly daring to believe my eyes, it was amazing to know that we had finally caught up with our ultimate nemesis! We enjoyed great views for around ten minutes or so as it swooped and soared around the sky - sometimes getting higher up and almost out of sight but always returning to the bridge and the water.
Red-rumped Swallow, Hull
You can clearly see the all black tail and pale head
Red-rumped Swallow, Hull
It was great to watch the aerial acrobatics in action, and the red rusty underparts and the strawberry and cream rump really stood out from the Barn Swallows and House Martins present. After swooping down low to the water to presumably get a welcome sip of water, it banked off high over the trees and out of sight – amazing!
Red-rumped Swallow, Hull
Really poor record shots showing the rump!
Red-rumped Swallow, Hull
Red-rumped Swallow, Hull
Present for the following days and showing at intervals since our encounter on the Monday, it was really saddening to learn that our bird had been taken by a Hobby early on the Thursday morning! A really sad end to a truly fantastic bid, and one that I’m especially glad that I finally managed to catch up with (just in time it seems!) RIP little swallow – we certainly won’t be forgetting you in a hurry! 

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