FT Swift or WT Needletail?? - Hobby

Subject: FT Swift or WT Needletail?? - Hobby
From: "boy nature" <>
Date: Wed, 04 May 2011 16:49:45 +0000

Thanks Philip

The birds did seem to me much more likely to be hobby’s and my descriptions arnt great, I had already written more than I wanted. Plus I had been pouring over books for 4 days because I was not sure.

I guess some minor things I would like to clarify/add.


The birds I saw had indistinct white striations across their dark chest, they looked just like the ‘underside painting’ of FTS picture 2 (from left) in Slaters Field Guide 1986 (reprint 94) and to the underbelly in Morcombes Field guide 2000 picture 2 although darker. While the tail looked most like Morcombes picture 4 of FTS. So they do match in those respects.

While the Hobby in all my books have dark lengthwise striations on a pale underside, almost always with a reddy tinge when ive seen them. They are way paler overall. Their tails are round. I was surprised that I couldn’t see a white rump or belly on the birds using binos BECAUSE I could see a pale patch before the tail using my naked eyes, hence my long explanation in D) part2- I realise I left that bit out. This does not rule out Hobby.


The birds I saw were in front of a ‘low’ dark cumulus cloud, however they were in sunshine. But this may have affected my perception of colours, dark- light. They were low, but were rapidly rising in an anticlockwise circle (on the NE edge of the cloud), then when they got to a certain height they wizzed off to the South in a straight fast line (may or may not be relevant). Swifts are 2/3 the size of Hobby’s which is more than a few cm (17-21 vs 30-35cm)


Call was not like a raptors- kek kek, or kikikiki, it was much higher twitter, very fast like a strong more consistent swallow-like call, like a very high bee eater perhaps. I have seen hobby’s and many other raptors recently so know the call pretty well.


It is late in the year, but this autumn seems to have been warm. I dont normally notice temperature, however my Birdshow was always in mid April ~ 17th/21st and it was always cold that week or 1 week before the show (like 1 degree to 15 degrees). But on Saturday April 30th it was 10 to 21.5 degrees, similar Sunday, and similar in the weeks before that, although some mornings were very cold.

Also, since it is late and they breed in our winter in N hemisphere swifts would be in breeding condition.


Anyway thanks for comments from Philip and also many other people ‘offline’. I wouldn’t normally bother (since I only saw them for a short time, ID is poor, and I cant record them) but I have been mulling over this for the past few days so it is useful to get all opinions and relevant observations.



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