Sunday, 29 September 2013

Pallid Swifts in Trieste

Pallid Swift by Igor Maiorano
It's been a few weeks since a small nucleus of Pallid Swifts has been discovered in the town of Trieste. The city skies are full of Common Swifts until late July, so finding a Pallid is a real challenge. Most of the sightings of this rarer species are from September to November when they are probably the only swifts to be seen in town. This year some small "colonies" have been found and in the last few days, late breeding has been presumed.
Yesterday me and a couple of friends went on San Giusto's castle in the city centre to try and find the birds. We were soon successful as we saw a flock of +30 swifts of which 2-3 were identified as PALLID SWIFTS for sure. These few swifts were the most showy within the group and we could see all the main characters to rule out Common Swift. However the rest of the flock remained distant and in bad light for most of the afternoon, so we couldn't be sure about their identity.
Pallid Swifts probably represent most of the flock, but there could be some Commons mixed among them as well. Anyway we also saw a Pallid Swift entering a hole in a high building at mid afternoon, which again suggested breeding.
This is a case that needs further investigation and in the next weeks we'll try to get better views of the swifts and hopefully photographs.
While swift-watching on the castle's tower we also saw two unusual urban migrants: a Whinchat and a Wheatear, both on the castle's wall and nearby rooftops.
All in all an interesting urban birding afternoon.

Local patch: at the moment I'm having a female Common Redstart in the garden, seen from my terrace a few minutes ago. Yesterday also a migrant Willow Warbler was in the neighbourhood.