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Friday, 13 September 2013

BARN SWALLOW x HOUSE MARTIN Hybrid at Gadebridge Park


Juvenile SWALLOW x HOUSE MARTIN Hybrid with C.200 Hirundines in rain
at N Gadebridge Park football pitch. 13/09/13

As I rode to work this morning in the drizzle I cut through the football pitch at the North end of Gadebridge Park, some gulls were resting so I stopped to check them out. As I got my binoculars out of my rucksack the drizzle got heavier & in dropped a flock of C.30 Hirundines from the North, staying to feed up, SWALLOWS mainly shooting low over the grass & HOUSE MARTINS wheeling around overhead.
My adrenaline suddenly started pumping as I picked out a Swallow with a whitish rump through the drizzle, hoping it was going to be a Red-rumped Swallow I tried my best to stay on it. From a fleeting glimpse of it face-on I noticed it had a slight pale area on the face, appearing mainly around the throat, perhaps less than I'd expect for a Red-rumped, but it was a terrible view so I couldn't be sure what I could see. I lost it for a few moments as it flew up to join the increasing number of Hirundines above me, now numbering C.60, & whilst trying to find it I noticed a MISTLE THRUSH feeding nearby on the football pitch. Now the drizzle had turned to rain & this prompted 8 MEADOW PIPITS to drop in from the NW, appearing to go down at the rough field at Howe Grove, near the horse stables at Fletcher Way, Highfield. I then glimpsed the 'light-rumped Swallow' again, skimming across the grass towards me from across the field. I got my bins back onto it & got a slightly better view of it's face, that's when I realised that unfortunately it wasn't a Red-rumped Swallow, but something interesting none-the-less. It was either a Barn Swallow x House Martin Hybrid or a Barn Swallow x Red-rumped Swallow Hybrid, but it was just too tricky to get a decent view in the rain. I lost the bird again & thought I wouldn't be able re-find it as by now the Hirundine flock above Gadebridge Lane had increased to C.200, & me, my binoculars, & my camera were very wet. But then from nowhere it came zipping past, closer than before. I managed to fire off some shots which was very hard as the bird was very fast in low light & I couldn't really see what I was doing in the rain, especially with water in my viewfinder. I then lost the bird & could not re-find it, the rain started to ease off leaving me completely soaked & the Hirundines started to move on, heading S over Gadebridge Park. I tried to analyse the photos in the field but I couldn't really see the preview on my camera as it was dripping wet, so I thought I would wait until I got to work to scrutinise my very poor record shots.

Once at the office, out of the rain & dried off, I looked at the photos keeping my mental notes in mind, & it immediately became apparent that it was a Juvenile BARN SWALLOW x HOUSE MARTIN Hybrid. It had a cleanish white rump, medium-short forked tail with no white spots & no white on the under-tail, no light patches on its nape, Juvenile Barn Swallow-like chest-band & paleish lower face, but without a noticeable pale forehead above the bill (making the bird appear pale-throated but with a dark fore-head). The bird was obviously round-bodied & plump, being shaped more like a House Martin, rather than having the slender, tapered body of a Swallow. Its movement & jizz were also different in comparison to the other Swallows feeding near it, with its wings not 'lapping'/flicking out as much as you'd expect from a feeding Swallow. I think I also may have heard this bird call, sounding more like a House Martin, but I couldn't say so for certain, when at one point the majority of the Hirundines were grouped together up high apart from this bird & about 3 other Swallows hunting low over the grass. As this bird passed me, when I took the photos, I heard what I was sure was a House Martin call close to me, but from what I could see all of the House Martins were too high up & far over Gadebridge Lane for me to hear, especially as it was raining, & the only other birds nearby being the few feeding Swallows.

So although not as rare as a pale-rumped Swallow could potentially be, a Barn Swallow x House Martin Hybrid is still a pretty rare bird. It is actually the first Swallow x Martin hybrid I have seen, as opposed to the usual aberrant or leucistic birds that are more regular, & was an exciting bird despite not turning out to be the long awaited Red-rumped Swallow I hoped to find. Here are my poor record shots taken in the rain at the time...

Juvenile SWALLOW x HOUSE MARTIN Hybrid with C.200 Hirundines in rain
at N Gadebridge Park football pitch. 13/09/13

Juvenile SWALLOW x HOUSE MARTIN Hybrid with C.200 Hirundines in rain
at N Gadebridge Park football pitch. 13/09/13
(Click to enlarge)

Juvenile SWALLOW x HOUSE MARTIN Hybrid with C.200 Hirundines in rain
at N Gadebridge Park football pitch. 13/09/13
(Click to enlarge)

Juvenile SWALLOW x HOUSE MARTIN Hybrid with C.200 Hirundines in rain
at N Gadebridge Park football pitch. 13/09/13 

Juvenile SWALLOW x HOUSE MARTIN Hybrid with C.200 Hirundines in rain
at N Gadebridge Park football pitch. 13/09/13






Swallow x House Martin Hybrid or aberrant leucistic Swallow?

Discussion about this bird on BirdForum > HERE <.

Discussion about this bird on Surfbirds > HERE <.

Discussion about this bird on birding.uk.com > HERE <.

Discussion about this bird on Wild About Britain > HERE <.

Discussion about this bird on BirdGuides > HERE <.

Discussion about this bird on Facebook:-

Jason Ward Is it not an aberrant Swallow. No sign of any interbreeding from the photos.
  • Veloraptor HemelBirding Hi Jason, the rump is so neat & symmetrical & there was no sign of any white on the under-tail as in Swallow. It did also move slightly differently to the other swallows, its jizz was slightly less Swallow-like with the wings not 'lapping'/flicking out like a Swallow so much. It also showed no sign of pale on the forehead just above the bill like a young Swallow should. I did also think I heard it call more like a House Martin but couldn't be certain on that. I did also look at images online of hybrids & there are some pics that match perfectly. Cheers, Dan.
  • Jason Ward Okay, you done extremely well to hear it. I've looked briefly. I'll chat with Barry Reed and Alan H tonight. I'm not 100% sure its hybrid. Jay.

  • Veloraptor HemelBirding Ok Jason, thanks. Not 100% on the call, only at one point, all the Hirundines were up high before they started to move on, apart from this bird & about 3 other Swallows hunting low over the grass. As this bird passed me, when I took the shots I heard what I was sure was a House Martin call close to, but apart from the other Swallows in the field, from what I could see all of the House Martins were too high up & far over Gadebridge Lane for me to hear, especially as it was raining. Hope that helps. Let me know what their thoughts are. Dan.
  • Jason Ward Still think its aberrant Swallow.






    Martin Parr

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    Brilliant find Dan, never heard of a X between these, and great work getting a shot in appalling conditions too!

    Thanks Martin

    HEMEL BIRDING shared this via Google+

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    saintlyboy1

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    Good shots considering speed and conditions.

    Thanks saintlyboy1

    paul ward shared this via Google+

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