Alpine Swift (Tachymarptis alba)
(aka Apus melba)
Alpine Swift, Athens, Greece, October 2002 - click for larger image Athens, Greece
October 2002

The Alpine Swift breeds in Europe around the Mediterranean Basin and in the Iberian Peninsula as well as in central Asia, India and parts of Africa. European birds migrate mainly to Africa north of the equator moving south in September / October about 6 weeks later than the Common Swift Apus apus.

They require ledges or holes in cliffs or tall buildings on which to build their nests but, apart from this requirement, they are found in a wide variety of habitats because they are primarily aerial. Indeed it is estimated that they may cover up to 1,000 kms a day flying in search of their insect prey. This photo was taken at the Acropolis in Athens.
It is easy to identify given its large size, its white belly and white throat although the throat is sometimes difficult to see. It also has a distinctive slow (for a swift) flight with deep wing beats.
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