Alpine Swift - Apus melba

Friday 8th November 2002 an Alpine Swift Apus melba was seen at Wageningen, Gelderland and again on Sunday at nearby Echt, Utrecht. Then it became known this bird slept at a tower in the little harbour of Wageningen, Gelderland. Next days it was seen there in the morning and evening, but at daytime it stayed 2 km east, showing itself very well. For a lot of birders this was the first opportunity to see this bird in the Netherlands. Alpine Swifts are notoriously elusive in the Netherlands. Of all c 40 records, only one stayed longer than one day and this was the first that stayed for more than two days! This bird stayed until 4 December, when it was taken into captivity. It was released in May 2003 in Switzerland.

13 November 2002, Wageningen Gld; © Jan van der Laan. Photographed during overcast conditions. The white belly is hardly descernible.

17 November 2002, Wageningen Gld; © Patrick Palmen.

17 November 2002, Wageningen Gld; © Patrick Palmen.

For me it was the first new species I saw in the Netherlands in 2002 (I saw it on Wednesday 13th November). I nearly had no new species this year and that would be the first blank year since I started twitching in 1976.
There are 38 accepted records in the Netherlands, but this was the second ever to be twitchable (cf Dutch Birding 24 (6): 400-401, 2002). The first twitchable was in 1987. Other records were in 1952, 1968, 1973, 1974, 1976 (2), 1981 (3), 1982 (2), 1984, 1987 (3, including the first twitchable), 1991, 1992 (2), 1993, 1994 (3), 1995, 1996, 1997, 1998 (2), 1999, 2000 (5) and 2001 (cf van den Berg & Bosman's Rare Birds of the Netherlands, 2001, page 217-218 and van der Vliet & van der Laan 2002 in Dutch Birding 24 (6): 336, 2002, Dutch Birding 26 (2): 96-99, 2004.

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