Wednesday, 20 April 2016

Alpine swift (Tachymarptis melba)

                                                      Alpine Swift (T. m. melba) at Monfrague National Park, Spain - April 2016

Local Name (Spain): Vencejo Re├íl - ("Royal Swift")
Featured Subspecies: Tachymarptis melba melba
Weight: 100g
Length: 20-23cm
Wingspan: 57cm
NO UK STATUS IUCN Red List: Least Concern

The Alpine Swift is a huge species of swift - the largest in the region, and unmistakable when seen around other swifts and hirundines due to the size alone.  As with all swifts, they are incredibly highly engineered specialists at flight, being able to stay on the wing continuously for up to seven months at a time, including drinking, feeding and sleeping in flight. They generally breed in high mountain ranges, however there are exceptions, including the large bridge at the Monfrague national park where I saw them.  Swifts are generally the hardest ground of birds to photograph proportionate to how easy they are to see, but the large size and distinctive white chest of the Alpine Swift does as least make it a bit easier to some sort of recognisable photo - this one was only my second attempt, and probably just as good as any photo I have managed with Common Swift.

Related Species:
Order: Apodiformes
Family: Apodidae
Genus: Tachymarptis
Subspecies: T. m. melba, T. m. archeri, T. m. maximus, T. m. africanus, T. m. marjoriae, T. m. willsi, T. m. bakeri

 - Sighting Locations -
SPAIN - Scarce and Local Summer Migrant
 - MADRID 2016 TRIP: Seen at Monfrague (2 adults in flight)

Further Notes: RSPB, Wikipedia, BirdGuides, BirdForum Opus, Arkive, IUCN Red List

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