1st September 2016. Swamphen, Alkborough Flats

Well I am almost never booked up, I only have the odd day when I have things on I cannot get out of, but when the Western Purple Swamphen turned up at Minsmere we had stuff on every day of the week and couldn’t go till the following weekend. Needless to say it departed on the Friday night! I had hoped it had just moved on the reserve but it was never seen again so we put that one down to history. Now I have seen 2 previous “Purple Gallinules” in the UK, one of which was traced to a collection in Cambs and the other was rejected for various reasons. This one however was of the European species (recently split) and was backed up by an extraordinary run of records in northern France. This has to make this the best candidate yet (or probably there will ever be unless its a ringing recovery!). This was all very annoying!

It got even more annoying when the bird was relocated many miles to the north of Minsmere and a lot closer to us, in Lincolnshire at Alkborough Flats, and with uncanny timing it was the one day again we had a Bat survey booked in. Gripped off whilst stuck in Warwicks as the messages came in we resolved to go the next day. Tuesday dawned and there was no sign of the little devil… a good thing actually as I was struck down once more by a migraine and couldn’t have traveled anyway!

Wednesday morning… early am, still suffering from the headache left overs the Mega alert woke me up… it was back. A ton of pain killers later and we were off. We arrived just after midday and did the hot walk down to the hide where the little beauty showed well feeding among the reeds on the far side of the pool!

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What a bonkers bird! A large blue bulky gallinule with a huge red bill and shield and ridiculous long red legs. This was compounded by its behaviour when at times it produced a ministry of silly walks jog and mad “dread runs’ with its wings held high and flailing around and a high stepping long striding run….. just very silly.

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Having a bath!

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The bird was always that bit too far for photos and the heat haze made the pic’s fuzzy but you have to try don’t you! Especially with a first for Britain!

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The bird is thought to be the same individual as the Minsmere one due to the gap in the left wing.


The reserve was a new one to me and its a good one. Large numbers of waders were showing well on the pools, including large numbers of Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Ruff and Spotted Redshank.

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Black tailed Godwit.

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Yellow Wagtail.



This entry was posted in 2016, Alkborough Flats, Black tailed Godwit, Redshank, Ruff, Uncategorized, Western Purple Swamphen, Yellow Wagtail. Bookmark the permalink.

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