Major Alpine Swift influx hits Britain and Ireland


Britain and Ireland is currently experiencing a major influx of Alpine Swift, with birds reported from more than 60 locations during the past week.

The influx began on Monday 13th with an extraordinary group of seven over Dungarvan, Co Waterford – the biggest flock ever recorded in Ireland. After another bird in Cheshire on 14th, further new individuals appeared in Co Cork, Cornwall and Gloucestershire on 15th, as suitable departure conditions in northern Iberia and a 'funnel' of south-westerly winds produced a large-scale arrival of common summer migrants across Britain and Ireland, with Sand Martin and Northern Wheatear appearing in particularly good numbers.

This Alpine Swift was well twitched at Oldbury Power Station, Gloucestershire, from 15-17th (Ian Bollen).

The mild conditions and southerly airflow continued throughout the week and into the weekend. From Thursday (16th) onwards, reports of Alpine Swift began to come in from a wide range of locations. Naturally, most sightings have come from the south and west, but birds have reached as far north as Argyll, while Northumberland and East Yorkshire have also got in on the act in north-east England.

Ireland has hosted the bulk of the sightings, with perhaps 50 different birds seen including an astonishing nine over Bray, Co Wicklow, yesterday (19th), this breaking the previous record count set in Co Waterford only six days previously. Across Britain and Ireland collectively, no fewer than 13 sites have had two to four birds, with six at Stanpit Marsh, Dorset, on 18th the standout British count.

With new birds being found daily and the winds staying in the south-west for this week at least, it's possible that many more Alpine Swifts could appear in the coming days.

To keep up to date with the influx and to see if there are any sightings in your area, download the BirdGuides app or visit birdguides.com/sightings. New users are entitled to a one-month free trial. Subscription prices start at as little as 96p per week.

An Alpine Swift giving point-blank views at Pennance Point, Cornwall (Luke Stoppard).