Pallid Swift on Vlieland in October 2006

On 20-21 October 2006, a Pallid Swift Apus pallidus was present on Vlieland, Friesland, the Netherlands. It was seen by c 20 birders staying on the island on the first day and successfully twitched by c 60 birders on the second day, when it flew in large circles along the coast and over the sea. On the first day, it was often seen with one or two Common Swifts A apus, allowing direct comparison of shape, plumage and flight actions.

Vale Gierzwaluw Apus pallidus
Foto Bas van den boogaard

It was aged as a first-year and identified on basis of tail shape (t4 and t5 of almost equal length) and the following plumage characters:

1 overall paler plumage than Common;

2 paler underwing with pale greater and median coverts (median are dark in Common);

3 tail-feathers paler and browner on inner web than in Common;

4 rump, vent and undertail-coverts paler and more scaly than in Common;

5 contrastingly paler head; 6 large pale throat patch, gradually extending to ear-coverts and forehead;

7 pale bases of belly- and breast-feathers, forming pattern of crosshatching;

8 dark eye-mask being conspicuous in rather pale head;

9 pale panel on greater and median coverts on upperwing.

This is the first record for the Netherlands. Several reports in previous years were not as well photographed as this bird and, as a consequence, not accepted by the Dutch rarities committee.

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Nils van Duivendijk

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