Red-rumps and Fork-tails

To: Birding Aus <>
Subject: Red-rumps and Fork-tails
From: Phil & Sue Gregory <>
Date: Sat, 3 Jan 2009 21:15:16 +1000
A surgical strike this afternoon Jan 3 with Charlie Andrews from Sydney and Jun Matsui from Cairns yielded one Red-rumped Swallow at 1345, actually in the old rusty roofed barn near the corner of Somerset Road north of Newell Beach (Far North Queensland), also 5 Barn Swallows. I hope to post a pic on the ABID site. The bird was singing quite well, and had quite bold dark chestnut streaks on the underparts. Be careful not to annoy the house owners here, do be discreet.......

Characters seem to fit quite well for the taxon japonica I think, and the underwing coverts were concolourous with the rest of the underwing, which eliminates Striated Swallow Hirindo striolata. The latter is a quite likely vagrant and has been suspected in the past, but not yet proven.

Also a flock of about 50 Fork-tailed Swifts north of Yule Point on the coast road, to the south of Port Douglas. Most had nice quite long forked tails, but 5 or 6 birds were in heavy moult, with abraded inner primaries and strikingly short slightly rounded tails.

These would be easily confused with the House Swift Apus (affinis) nipalensis, but useful distinguishing characters are the raggedy appearance of the tail tip, where the feathers are clearly regrowing, not being neatly squared off or slightly notched as in House Swift, the very long wings of the Fork-tails, the neat and narrow white rump and the dark throats. The birds were also calling, a typical Apus twittering scream.

Phil Gregory

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