20th October 2013 – PALLID SWIFT at Hartlepool Headland…

It’s been 14 years since I last saw a Pallid Swift, so when a juvenile bird was discovered at Hartlepool Headland on the 17th October I was really hoping it would linger until my day off today – and thankfully it did.

With the bird being seen going to roost last night on St. Hilda’s Church our plan was to get there for first light to see it leave the roost this morning. Well that was the plan anyway. But the journey over to Hartlepool went a bit pear-shaped when the A1231 was closed and we had to follow a diversion. This cost us about 15 minutes, which meant we missed the bird leaving it’s roost by 8 minutes. Bugger! We were surprised that it had flown off so early, it was still pretty dark at 0715hrs, but after about 20 minutes of moping about near the Heugh Battery it suddenly appeared right over our heads. It was still getting light and the bird just looked dark silhouetted against the sky, but we were just relieved that it hadn’t buggered off completely…


As we waited for the light to improve we decided to look for the nearby Western Bonelli’s Warbler which had already been confirmed as still being present. This fab little bird was soon in the bag, along with a hat full of Chiffy’s and Blackcaps. Both target birds seen and it wasn’t even 8 o’clock. Nice.






Just NW of here a Dusky Warbler was favouring trees and scrub opposite the Jewish Cemetery, and we timed our visit to perfection – it was showing as soon as we arrived. The trees were quite dense and dark here, it was quite tricky to see but acceptable views were had. No photos of it I’m afraid. In fact within ten minutes of us arriving it seemed to vanish completely. We waited for some time hoping that we’d get more views of it but with the sun now shining and news that the Pallid Swift was over the Heugh Battery again we decided to head back there instead.

The light now was perfect for watching this bird, in fact it almost looked like a different bird to the one we’d seen first thing. Compare these shots below to the one I took earlier…








It was quite a challenge trying to get images of this bird (for me at least!), so I was chuffed to get anything at all to be honest. Previous attempts at photographing swifts have all ended in disappointment and frustration. I’m sure all the photographers that were stood there today with their huge lenses will have stunning shots. If only I had that sort of money!

On the way back home we popped into Prestwick Carr where we watched a fairly distant Great Grey Shrike…



So Pallid Swift, Western Bonelli’s, Dusky Warbler and a Great Grey Shrike – and back home for 2.30pm to spend some time with the family. Can’t be bad.

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2 Responses to 20th October 2013 – PALLID SWIFT at Hartlepool Headland…

  1. Carl Baggott says:

    Not a bad bag full there – great shots of the Pallid Swift.

  2. Neil scott says:

    Commited to the cause mate, pleased you had a good day both start and finish

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