/ Birdspotters Help

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Mooncat 07 Jul 2019

I walked round Alwen Reservoir at the weekend (near Betws y Coed) at the far end of the reservoir a bird flew underneath the bridge, skimming the water. I'm usually ok identifying birds but nothing comes to mind, searches for the usual British birds come up with nothing.

It was like a large swift but probably sized nearer to a slimmer Blackbird, it looked black on the back with some white near the rump, mostly white underneath as well. Wings and proportions were similar to a normal swift.

Any ideas what I've seen?

Mal Grey 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

House martin? (White on the lower back being a give away) They're quite small though compared with swifts, but sometimes its hard to tell if you only see the one bird.

toad 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

A house/ sand martin if its " swift-y" or maybe a dipper if its more blackbird-y

Mooncat 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Mal Grey:

Definitely not sorry, it was clearly bigger than a swift. I saw it quite close up.

Mooncat 07 Jul 2019
In reply to toad:

Definitely not any type of Martin, nowhere near fat enough body to be a dipper, wings were all wrong as well.

toad 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

Clutching at straws now- pied wagtail?

Mooncat 07 Jul 2019
In reply to toad:

Much bigger than a Pied Wagtail.

I'm suspecting I've seen something rare from overseas, I'm not an expert but can identify most British birds quite easily, this didn't even bring any possibilities to mind.

Wilderbeest 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

Could have been a sandpiper. They certainly skim across inland lakes...

https://www.rspb.org.uk/birds-and-wildlife/wildlife-guides/bird-a-z/common-sandpiper/

keith-ratcliffe 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

If it was Blackbird (slim) sized could it be a Ring Ouzel? Water based perhaps a Dipper?

Post edited at 21:43
Mooncat 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Wilderbeest:

Nothing like one sorry, this had long slim wings like a swift and a short tail.

Mooncat 07 Jul 2019
In reply to keith-ratcliffe:

Ring Ouzel's wings would be much too broad.

Michael Hood 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

One of the less common terns?

White winged black tern sounds possible but no idea if ever seen in summer in UK and whether seen in Wales.

Post edited at 22:44
badgerjockey 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

It’s unlikely but possible that it’s an alpine swift. They do turn up as rare vagrants once in a while on our shores though what the hell one would be doing in Betws I have no idea....  look it up - although like I say, unlikely. 

Mooncat 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

Thanks, but definitely not a Tern's tail, this was all wings with a quite stumpy tail.

Michael Hood 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

The other thing is that at this time of year, identification can be complicated by moulting and juveniles.

Mooncat 07 Jul 2019
In reply to badgerjockey:

Ooh, we may have a winner, the size and colouring looks about right. When I was looking for your suggestion I came across the Spine Tailed Swift, apparently these have been seen in the UK and definitely another possibility.

Thanks

badgerjockey 07 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

About once every 20-30 years as they’re Asian birds. Alpines occur commonly in European mountain areas. 

Michael Hood 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

Have you looked/asked on any local bird forums, they would be likely to have details if anyone has seen any "other" swifts.

Mooncat 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

I've just emailed brenig to let them know. 

mick taylor 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

Rare swifts are spotted more frequently than most folk think.  Two weeks ago, an alpine swift got trapped in a mill in Leigh (nr Wigan).  Video of alpine swift here:

https://www.birdguides.com/species-guide/ioc/tachymarptis-melba/

Greylag 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

Not typical for them to skim water but it wasn't a wheatear was it? White arse, balck back, white underneath sounds a good description for them.

Named by the Victorians I believe as having a white arse....I maybe wrong but the name somehow transformed to wheatear!

Ron Rees Davies 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Michael Hood:

No Alpine Swifts reported on the N Wales forums (It's all about the Savi's warbler on Anglesey and Gull-billed tern on the Wirral at the moment). In any case an Alpine Swift wouldn't have a white rump. 

My guess would still be House Martin. Size is notoriously difficult to assess accurately with birds in unfamiliar situations. 

Mooncat 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Greylag:

No nothing like a wheatear, much bigger and definitely swift like wings 

Mooncat 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Ron Rees Davies:

I'd recognise a house Martin easily, nothing like what I saw 

Ron Rees Davies 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

Hobby or Merlin would be other possibilities, highly likely in the habitat and with similar wing outline to swift but with longer tails. 

Mooncat 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Ron Rees Davies:

Absolutely nothing like either. 

Wicamoi 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Mooncat:

Highly unlikely at this time of year, but not as unlikely as the spine tailed swift, so.... have you considered the green sandpiper? It famously resembles a house martin when in flight (but is about the size you describe).

Ron Rees Davies 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Wicamoi:

Not actually that unlikely at all - there's a Green Sandpiper at the RSPB at Conwy today, and there were 6 at Cors ddyga on Anglesey on Friday. 

Mooncat 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Wicamoi:

Don't think so looks all wrong tail on the one I saw was definitely shorter and the wings narrower

Wicamoi 08 Jul 2019
In reply to Ron Rees Davies:

I stand corrected on the unlikeliness! But sadly still no use the OP.


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