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Red-rumped Swallow

Posted by Rory Tallack on Wednesday 19th May 2010 | Birding in Shetland

Tuesday evening was one of those incredible Shetland summer evenings, when there’s hardly a breath of wind and not a cloud in the sky. I was sat at home, exhausted after 3 fantastic days away with a group of local school kids on a geology trip. I had little enthusiasm for anything which involved movement until my girlfriend asked, “should we go out birding seeing it’s such a lovely evening”. Believe me, this is not a sentence which passes her lips very often!

Earlier that day I learned that I had missed a White-tailed Eagle in Unst yet again, so it took little persuasion to get me outside. In the same way that there is always enough room for pudding, I find that there is always just enough energy for a bit more birding! Twenty minutes later we were being treated to a spectacular aerobatic display in the north of the island, as a group of Swallows careered up and down the burn in front of us. In my opinion there are few better sights in the bird world. “I would love to find a Red-rumped Swallow”, I said as we watched.

Arriving back into Norwick some ten minutes later, another group of hawking Swallows caught my eye a couple of fields away. I was still driving but as the closest of the birds changed direction I caught sight of a pale orange rump. I parked up, grabbed my scope and video camera and we made our way closer to the flock for a better view…A Red-rumped Swallow, unbelievable! This was the first I had ever seen in Shetland, making the find that little bit more special.

Red-rumped Swallows breed across southern Europe and although they are becoming more regular in the UK, there are fewer than 25 records in Shetland, half of those occurring in the last decade.

The above photo was taken (digi scoped) ‘at the scene of the find’, also attached is one from our good friend Robbie Brookes.

Rory Tallack