Thursday, 20 September 2012

A Swift fix in Lanzarote


Contributed by Dick

As it is the off season for our Swifts, I took a trip to Lanzarote to see some seabirds. I had heard that there were Plain Swifts Apus unicolor at the Costa Teguise golf course, so I decided to spend a couple of hours there on my way to the airport to see if I could find them.

Plain Swift Apus unicolor 
(Click to enlarge)
Sure enough, I soon heard the sound of screaming swifts, higher pitched than ours, but charging around above the palm trees in the same exuberant way.

Apus unicolor is an appropriate name, they appear to be uniform black with no white about the face. They are also smaller than our bird, with a more deeply forked tail, otherwise not that different from their close relative.

Plain Swifts are endemic to Madeira and the Canaries, and they visit the African coast in winter, but no one knows where they go from there. Interestingly, according to BWP, it has not been proved breeding on Lanzarote.

These delightful little birds kept me entranced for a good hour before I headed for the airport and home.

Part of a flock of 30 Plain Swifts screaming overhead

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