IT’S ONE of those stories people like me, who are bird enthusiasts (though not experts), long to read, the story of a sighting of a very rare bird. The white-throated needletail has only been seen in the UK 8 times since 1846. It flies up to speeds of 106 mph, with only the peregrine falcon faster.
- The white-throated needletail is known as the Stormbird in Australia as it is often seen during storms and bushfires
- Hitting speeds of up to 106mph, it is the fastest bird in flight. (The peregrine falcon can reach 200mph but is assisted by gravity in its dives or “˜stoops’)
- Swifts reach their highest speeds during mating displays known as “˜screaming parties’ in which they show off to potential partners and emit loud squawks during dramatic vertical climbs
- Copulation is said to take place in mid-air at high speed
- Its call is “˜chitter chitter chitter’
- It feeds on flying insects, such as termites, beetles and flies. They catch the insects in flight in their gaping beaks
- During freezing weather they enter a coma-like state for several days at a time to conserve energy
- It nests in trees but spends most of its time in the air
Until the sad part that inevitably unfolds into a rare creature colliding with modernity.
John Marchant, 62, who had made the trip all the way from Norfolk, said: “˜We were absolutely over the moon to see the bird. We watched it for nearly two hours.
“˜But while we were watching it suddenly got a bit close to the turbine and then the blades hit it.
“˜We all rushed up to the turbine, which took about five minutes, hoping the bird had just been knocked out the sky but was okay.
“˜Unfortunately it had taken a blow to the head and was stone dead.
“˜It was really beautiful when it was flying around, graceful and with such speed. To suddenly see it fly into a turbine and fall out the sky was terrible.’
We’ve had peacocks, raised them from chicks as well, and also seen a cherished bird die. For us it was an albino peacock chick, not seen often, who didn’t make it past 3 months. That hardly competes with the white-throated needletail, but heartbreak is heartbreak. On the glorious side of birds, I also had a gorgeous golden eagle land not 20 feet away from me, allowing me to view the magnificence up close for a short time. Hawks are always flying around our place. Bald eagles, too, and the list goes on and on. We’ve travels many times to try to catch the swans mating in the outskirts of Alexandria, finally spying them last year. Birds are special to Mark and me.
Watch the video taken by Josh Jones that captures this rare beauty before she meets her tragic end. It’s worth it.