Wednesday 26th saw me doing my usual check of the patch and having done the lighthouse area with little reward I decided to check out East Runton which I'd somewhat neglected over the last few days. The usual area was equally birdless so I decided to have a quick check of the clifftop paddock at Wyndham Park, but as it only held the local House Sparrows and a couple of Robins I was about to retrace my steps when I looked up to see a swift sp powering towards me seemingly having just come in-off the sea.
Mindful of the late date and the southerly airflow that we are currently enjoying, the possibility that it could be a Pallid naturally sprung to mind. It quickly passed overhead and then headed south over the coast road before veering east and headed off low over the houses on the west side of Cromer and out of sight. Views were frustratingly brief but its extensive pale throat, overall paleness of plumage and contrast in the flight feathers all pointed to it indeed having the potential to be a Pallid, so I set off to try to relocate it.
A five minute scan over Cromer drew a blank so I quickly went up to the lighthouse to check the cliffs there as in the past they have been particularly attractive to vagrant swifts with both Little and Alpine Swifts there previously. There was no sign but I bumped into Ian P up there and after a while of chatting and scanning he picked it up distantly back over the same area I had originally found it, so annoyingly it had probably not gone very far afterall.
We quickly raced back to Cromer and were able to watch it briefly before it headed off west, with these views further adding to the probability that this was indeed a Pallid Swift. I subsequently saw it briefly from Beeston Regis Church, and by this time other observers also caught up with it here and were confident that it was a Pallid too.
Thursday morning saw me back at Beeston Church and after a short while of scanning I picked up presumably the same bird feeding happily over Sheringham town. With the news quickly broadcast a good number of birders were able to watch it as it continued to linger till c11.30 before it drifted off east whereby I relocated it as it fed over West Runton for a short while.
Subsequently I picked up what may have been a different swift feeding way inland over the ridge at Sheringwood before it headed off further inland and was lost to view, and then an hour later a swift appeared briefly over Beeston Church before quickly heading west along the coast and disappeared off over Sheringham. Now whether this was the same bird doing a big loop, or whether two or even three birds were involved in these sightings I'm not sure.
After a gap of three days, another swift was seen over Cromer this morning, so I set about the task of relocating it and eventually managed to refind it feeding over West Runton where it lingered distantly for c20 mins before being lost to view. Presumably the same bird was then picked up over Sheringham where it remained for the rest of the day in the company of a Swallow or two, and as the day drew to a close a second swift joined them before they were all lost to view as dusk approached. With todays original bird seemingly continually changing appearance depending on the light and angle of viewing it was a real nightmare to clinch and what is evident is that autumn swifts are far from easy id's without prolonged and good close-up views and ideally they're photographed too.
Thankfully others managed to get some fairly decent photos of some of the birds involved this week, but with my point & shoot all I could manage is the one below of the first of the two over Sheringham today.