Who am I?

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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to see the natural world as a place for competition. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Tuesday, 10 August 2021

Swiftly passing by

 There's no photos, just an incredible memory etched in my head. Out before 02.30 hrs, this morning, bait in the drain before 04.00 hrs. I missed an absolute sitter, of a bite, at 04.45 hrs then spent the remainder of the session (I packed up at 08.30 hrs) watching the spectacle of avian migration. There were two Hobby hunting the drain before sunrise, then it all kicked off. Between 0615 & 07.40 hrs birds were piling through. I estimated, it being impossible to make accurate counts under these circumstances, 1,200 Sand Martin, 400+ Swallow & 170 Common Swifts, all moving steadily south on a very broad front. It didn't matter where I pointed the binos, there were birds moving. And to think that I blanked!!!

Back home by 09.45 hrs, I thought it might be worth scanning the skies for a late garden record of Common Swift. I'd recorded two on Monday. To say that I'm blown away is an understatement. The movement that I was privileged to witness beggars belief. A slow start, as expected, rapidly developed into a sizeable W-SW movement of Common Swifts as pulse after pulse pushed into the moderate breeze. By 11.00 hrs my notebook had recorded in excess of 330 birds then it went ballistic! Between 11.00 hrs & 12 .40 Hrs it didn't matter where I looked (using binoculars and/or my Kowa TSN 823 x30 eye-piece) Swifts where absolutely piling through. I estimate, very conservatively, over 2,000 birds were involved. This is the largest movement of Swifts I've ever seen, although it might be purely due to the fact that, until now, I've never had the chance to spend time in the garden, scratching my arse and looking through the binos. I have looked at the SBBOT daily sightings, for today, and they've seen bugger all! It wouldn't have been like that when Rab Morton was in charge and the Obs actually functioned as a recording centre, not a coffee club!


  1. That's one hell of an experience Dyl. I had a similar occurrence on my more inland patch when one afternoon I had masses of Hirundines drifting slowly overhead heading south.
    My latest garden Swift record was a group of five, September 5th 1992.

    1. Geographical location, as opposed to any other factor, is why Thanet is capable of providing this type of avian experience. I don't have a latest sighting date for the garden, but do remember finding a Pallid Swift out on the Ash Levels on 22nd November 2003! Hoping all is well - Dyl

  2. We had a similar thing up here last year Dyl, the sky was full of Swifts. I noted it here https://boulmerbirder.blogspot.com/search/label/Swift but our numbers pale compared to other sites with up to 28k south!

    1. It was the unexpected nature of the mass appearance of these wonderful birds that really excited me. I've been privileged to have witnessed some fairly awesome avian events since moving to Kent, but none more enjoyable than being able to stand in my garden, gawping at the display. Hoping all is well up in your neck of the woods? - Dyl