News broke yesterday afternoon of an Alpine Swift in Crawley. Neither myself nor Paul could make it due to some prior commitments. Our original plan was to get up reasonably early and wait for news of the Alpine Swift, however, Paul had obviously been chewing this over and text me to suggest we leave early on sunday morning and take our chances of seeing the bird. I agreed to this on the condition that we spent at least an hour and a half standing outside the wrong Virgin Atlantic building. We met up at Maple Lodge but I was unable to park in the car park as there was a "Dog's Bollocks Motorcycle Club" event still in full swing. So less than an hours drive and we were standing outside the wrong (as it turned out) Virgin Atlantic building. Here we stood for quite some time frantically checking our phones for news and all the time wondering where all the other birders were? LGRE came and went and after a while another birder kindly informed we were at the wrong location! The bird had not been seen so not a problem. A quick discussion and we decided to head over to the Church where the Alpine Swift had been seen on Saturday. I suggested to Paul that just for a laugh we should go to the wrong church! He didn't see the funny side of that suggestion, so we made our way to the correct Church. Unfortunately no sign of the bird here either. The next cunning plan was to go nearest Macdonalds for coffee and maybe the Swift would be reported. At Macdonalds I ordered pancakes and syrup and a cappuccino. Cold, wet and no bird but i was "loving it!". With no news we headed for home m23 and then m25 but on checking the news services the Alpine Swift had been seen leaving it's roost on the Virgin Atlantic building. We were somewhere near Chertsey about 35 minutes away if we were travelling in the right direction. So off at the next junction and back on m25 and then m23. Soon after leaving the m23 we were back on Fleming Way and controversially Paul ignored the wrong Virgin Atlantic building and headed to the right one. Here we joined 20 or so other birders and luckily for us the Alpine Swift was flying and giving good flight views. I went to Paul's van to get my camera but on my return the Alpine Swift had decided to rest on the wall of the building. We all made our way to where the bird was roosting and I took a few poor quality photos. There were quite a few of us birders there and before long a very polite security guard asked us to leave. There was no fuss and he even allowed some newly arrived birders to see the Swift.
We hung around chatting to Rob (nice to see you Rob) @Robsbirding on twitter and one or two others. LGRE ever the entrepreneur began running escorted trips to see the roosting Alpine Swift at £10 per time as long as you don't divulge the roost site to others.
Time to head home now and traffic was much heavier on the m23 and m25 than previously but we didn't care!
Rob's version and some nice pics of the Alpine Swift