Birdwatch News Archive
The Eastern Crowned Warbler belatedly identified from photos at Hilfield Park Reservoir, Herts, eluded even quick-off-the-mark local birders after it was released. Photo: Mark McManus.
Rare birds in Britain in 2011
Posted on: 03 Oct 2012
The much-anticipated review of rare birds in Britain last year, just published by the Rarities Committee, includes acceptance of several second and third national records, but as yet none of the four potential firsts that were submitted.
Report on rare bird in Great Britain in 2011, the committee's annual summary of its accepted and rejected records published in the journal British Birds, also contains a shock 'Not Proven' decision on last year's Long-toed Stint at Weir Wood Reservoir, Sussex, from 15-21 September.
Many birders had considered this last record a shoo-in due to the calibre of some of the observers, the documentation and video footage taken of the bird, though this has not been publicly released. It is now apparent that the evidence needed to unequivocally accept this potential third record for Britain was either not available or not presented to the committee, resulting in the unexpected decision to reject the claim. This could be overturned in due course, however, should new evidence such as confirmatory footage be submitted.
|The Long-toed Stint at Weir Wood Reservoir, East Sussex, in September 2011 has been found 'Not Proven' by the Rarities Committee, a move which has shocked many twitchers of the bird. Photo: Mick Davis.|
Some of the rarest birds of the year were frustrating for twitchers, either being seen by a very limited number of observers or being found as corpses. They include three second national records from 2011:
- Short-toed Eagle at Dawlish Warren and then Orcombe Point, Devon, on 16 October. This long-awaited second individual, 12 years after the first, was believed also to have been the same as Jersey’s first, seen a few days earlier (Birdwatch 234: 71).
- Eastern Crowned Warbler at Hilfield Park Reservoir, Greater London/Hertfordshire, on 30 October (Birdwatch 234: 68-69). Trapped and ringed as a Yellow-browed Warbler, this mega was released before its true identity was realised and not seen again
- Maderian Storm-petrel at Pendeen, Cornwall, on 16 September. Controversially, this record will almost certainly be relegated to no-species-land as the North Atlantic ‘band-rumped’ storm-petrels have just been split into three cryptic species by the BOURC’s Taxonomic Subcommittee (see www.birdwatch.co.uk/channel/newsitem.asp?c=11&cate=__12549), and specific identification at sea is currently an essentially impossible task.
Also accepted are undeniably identified corpses of an American Purple Gallinule from Devon and a Siberian Blue Robin from Foula, while the crowd-evading Rufous-tailed Robin from Norfolk and the crowd-pleasing White -throated Robin from Hartlepool sail through.
Other popular or intriguing megas that make it into the record books include Sandhill Crane and American Black Tern (fourth records), Ovenbird (fifth records) and double occurrences of Scarlet Tanager and Spectacled Warbler.
More frustratingly for the less patient are the potential first British records of White-winged Scoter, Slaty-backed Gull, Asian Red-rumped Swallow (a potential split from Red-rumped) and Eastern Black Redstart; all were well-documented and all except the swallow were twitched by many birders, but are currently still in circulation awaiting a decision. Still, while we wait, the report helps us to reflect on what a classic year for rarities 2011 truly was.
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