Filip De Ruwe

Little swift sighted in Belgium for the first time

A little swift has been spotted in Belgium for the first time.  The bird was seen flying over a nature area in the seaside resort of Blankenberge (West Flanders) on Monday.

Environmentalists believe the bird had gone astray.  The little swift is a migratory bird that usually spends the winter in southern Africa returning north to breed in the warmer areas of southern Europe.  In northern Europe it is particularly rare.

It was a young bird spotter Stijn Baeten, who identified the little swift flying over Blankenberge on Monday.  Dominique Verbelen of the environmental organisation Natuurpunt believes the sighting is sensational: “This is like a camel at the North Pole or a polar bear in the Sahara.  It’s hard to explain my feelings.  It’s like when a deeply religious person meets the pope.  This is more or less how bird lovers experience a sighting of the little swift in Belgium”.

On Tuesday a flock of bird spotters descended on the same location in a bid to see the little swift with their own eyes, but all fifty were disappointed.  The bird is thought to have moved on.

Though not a singing bird, the little swift is related to the Colibri bird of Latin America.  It’s a fast flier that emits an icy scream.

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