AfS regulars may forgive my indulgence in this slightly off-topic post. I have just returned from a spectacular tour of the Russian far east on the ship Spirit of Enderby, starting at Petropavlovsk Kamchatskiy and ending in Anadyr in Chukotka. I was surprised and disappointed to find no swifts, of any kind, in Petropavlovsk.
|Part of a flock of over 30 Pacific Swifts above the clifftop|
On coming ashore, we found good numbers of Pacific Swifts circling the cliffs, together with House Martins collecting mud, but there was no time to study them as we had a long walk across the tundra searching for "spoonies" to complete.
However, on returning to the cliffs, a search for Pacific Swifts entering crevices in the cliffs was soon interrupted when a lady, Jude Power, from California, said to me, "Dick - what is this?" Jude was used to searching holes in cliff faces in search of owls and found 3 white birds in a hole - and if they are white, they must be Barn Owls - but try as she would, she could not make them into Barn Owls. I raised my glasses and what I saw, also confused me, my first reaction was 3 white feral pigeons. In a place so remote?
|3 full grown white Gyr Falcon chicks - a stunning sight|
Photo © Chris Collins
Pacific Swift Apus pacificus has longer, slimmer wings than
Common Swift, a more deeply forked tail and softer
screaming calls. This bird appears to have food in its throat
The picture left shows a Pacific Swift with a full throat pouch indicating this bird had chicks to feed nearby.
The hour or so that we spent in this place was one of the most magical of experiences that I have had in a long birding career.