Older readers may remember an author in the 1950’s called Stephen Potter who invented the notion of “One-upmanship” whereby the use of a little extra knowledge could be used to your advantage in social, sporting and career matters; this idea was continued in the 1970’s with the “Bluff Your Way In…” series of books and continues today with “(Whatever) …For Dummies” – all these are a way of using a few limited facts to get you ahead of the pack.
This can be applied when watching birds too, a few bits of inside information can be added to your basic knowledge to give you the appearance of an expert, and I’m here to help you.
Most people know the Swallow. The Common (or Barn) Swallow is familiar to us in the UK, and can be seen just as easily here in Spain as well. But if you look closely, you might just have noticed that there is another bird here which looks very much like a Swallow but which is a little bit different, and here’s one sitting on my roof in GA last year.
This is the Red-rumped Swallow (Golondrina Daurica in Spanish), and you should be seeing them both in the Clot and around the urbanisations right now – they are one of the first of the summer visitors to arrive and the first ones for this year were seen around the 3rd March. You can see them before they start to breed chasing insects over the pools in the Clot, and if you are statistically minded you might work out that for every ten swallows you see, on average one of them will be a Red-rumped.
It does all the swallow-ey things that it’s cousin does – whizzing about catching insects on the wing, building a mud nest, migrating to Africa – and it’s only the red-tinged rump and neck and slightly chubbier outline which mark it out as something different.
The reason why you need this knowledge is that hardly any British birders will have seen one as they are fairly rare in the UK (these are sensible birds which have heard about British weather and decided it’s not for them), so when your friends arrive you can casually drop the Red-rumped Swallow into your conversation and impress the hell out of them.
It’s a much better idea than the one I had originally for this article, but our esteemed editors pointed out to me that my column this month would not have been seen by most readers until well after 1st April, so sadly you have been denied my in-depth analysis of the introduction of the Wild Scottish Haggis into the Clot by the Spanish authorities as a biological mosquito control.
See you next month.
You can see more photos of wildlife in our area by visiting my site at: http://marketheridge.smugmug.com/