Sunday 7 August 2016

Swamp donkey

Adult Western Swamphen, Minsmere, Suffolk, 1 August 2016

A Western Swamphen was found at Minsmere on Sunday 31 July. I didn't actually hear about the bird until the evening as I was playing cricket and didn't have my mobile to hand. As such I visited early on Monday morning, and enjoyed fine views for much of my stay from 07:45-10:30. That said, the bird was always over the far side of the pool and thus rarely any closer than about 100 metres.

In my (and many others') opinion, this bird meets all the criteria you'd hope for in a wild bird. An unusual northward dispersal has been occurring in France this year and it's easy to fit this bird in to the pattern observed there. You can read much more about this influx in an article by Hugo TouzĂ© and myself on the BirdGuides website:

The bird's last showing at Minsmere came on Friday, resulting in a six-day stay. There has been no sign since. I'd argue that the relatively short stay is another factor in favour of this bird being wild - though the most northerly swamphen in France (in Morbihan) is still present at the time of writing, having been found back on 20 July. Others, further south in France, lingered for up to a week or so.

The jury's of course still out and it may be that some damning evidence comes to light that renders it unacceptable as a wild bird - though I doubt that'll be the case, and I suspect (hope) that it rightfully finds its way on to Category A.

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