The British Ornithologists' Union Records Committee has admitted Olive-tree Warbler Hippolais olivetorum to category A of the British List, following a record of a first-winter bird at Boddam, Shetland, on 16th August 2006. Following initial difficulties in identification of the bird in the field, its identity was clinched by some fine photos, including the one below by Hugh Harrop.
As the species tends to depart its breeding grounds (from Croatia to Israel) quite early, an August occurrence in Britain is consistent with its known movements. There had apparently been two previous claims of the species, on Scilly in September 1972 and on St Kilda in August 1999 but these had not been found acceptable due to inadequate documentation. Read the full BOU press release.
BUBO Listing had added Olive-tree Warbler as a 'provisional' species to the BOU and 'Official Britain & Ireland' base-lists, and the 'provisional' status is now removed.
The taxonomic subcommittee of the BOU has recommended that Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans) and American Herring Gull (Larus smithsonianus) would best be treated as separate species, rather than as subspecies of Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) as previously. The details of the recommendation can be read in full here.
Although this recommendation has not yet been accepted formally by the BOU Records Committee, this is considered to be only a matter of time and thus, BUBO Listing now allows the addition of these two species onto lists using the BOU or "Official British & Irish" authorities. [The two species were already split by the UK400 Club and Birdwatch authorities.]
This decision will be widely welcomed by British birders ("about time too" many will say!) and will result in a number of "armchair ticks". In recent years, Caspian Gull has proved to be a scarce but regular visitor, especially in eastern and central England; it remains scarcer than Yellow-legged Gull and, moreover, shows a less distinct late summer peak in the number of records. American Herring Gull is much rarer, with most records in western counties and identification of older birds still problematic.
[Note that the other recommendations made by the taxonomic subcommittee (i.e. changes to some latin names and alterations to the species order of some groups) will not be incorporated by BUBO Listing until they are formally accepted by the BOURC.]
A Brown Flycatcher found at Flamborough Head, Yorkshire, may prove to be the first official British record. A previous bird on Fair Isle on 1st July 1992 was accepted as being this species, but the date was deemed unusual for such a species and so the record was not accepted by the BOURC as referring to a wild bird. The Flamborough bird, however, would appear to have much stronger credentials, arriving amongst a major arrival of Yellow-browed Warblers and shortly following records of both White's Thrush and Siberian Thrush on the northern isles.
In anticipation of this bird's potential acceptance, therefore, Brown Flycatcher has been added to BUBO Listing's BOU and "Official Britain and Ireland" list authorities, allowing those BUBO Listers lucky enough to catch up with this bird to add it to their lists based on those authorities. [The species was already on the UK400 and Birdwatch authority lists, on the basis of the Fair Isle bird.] If the Flamborough bird is not accepted, however, this species will be removed from these lists in the future.
No, this isn't the latest DEFRA plan, but the latest change to BUBO Listing. The most frequent comment we have received regarding BUBO Listing is that the number of people with Ruddy Shelduck records on their BOU lists makes for unfair list comparisons. It should be noted that Ruddy Shelduck is a category B species, with the last acceptable record in 1946. Thus we don't really expect anyone to have this legitimately recorded on their BOU lists (although more recent records are acceptable under the UK400 Club and Birdwatch Magazine authorities).
We have previously emailed BUBO Listers with Ruddy Shelducks on their BOU lists to explain this, and most have then taken the records off. However with new listers registering and new lists being entered, the number of Ruddy Shelduck records has been steadily increasing again!
After much thought, we have taken the following two steps:
1. It is no longer possible to add category B (or D) species to lists, either via the Create New List or Add Species to List options. The full species lists including category B species can still be viewed as part of the Species Checklists but category B species will not be available for BUBO listers to add to their lists. The species affected by this are:
- Ruddy Shelduck: only available for UK400 Club and Birdwatch Magazine authorities
- Hooded Merganser: only available for UK400 Club and Birdwatch Magazine authorities
- White-faced Storm-petrel: not available
- Maderian Storm-petrel: not available
- Egyptian Vulture: not available (although the recent Norfolk record could necessitate a provisional acceptance)
- Spotted Eagle: not available
- Eskimo Curlew: not available
- Great Black-headed Gull: not available
- Great Auk: not available
- Red-necked Nightjar: not available
2. Any invalid records of these species have been deleted from lists by BUBO Listing. Note that we are keen to avoid direct action like this but in this case it seemed the most pragmatic option given the number of comments we were getting.
If you have legitimate reasons for including any of these species (e.g. you saw Ruddy Shelduck in 1946, you saw the 1957 Irish Hooded Merganser, you saw the recent Egyptian Vulture in Norfolk etc.) then please contact us and we will add the species directly.
The BOURC has admitted Magnificent Frigatebird to category A of the British List. This is for the remarkable record of an adult male found near Whitchurch, Shropshire on 7 November 2005. The bird was taken into care but unfortunately died shortly after.
Clearly we're not expecting BUBO Listers to be adding this to their lists, although interestingly unidentified Frigatebirds were reported in the few days prior to this sighting: these were from Porthgwarra (seen by a non-birder) and from Flat Holm island in the river Severn seen flying into Avon near Weston-super-Mare (accepted as Frigatebird sp by BBRC). There is a possibility that these records relate to the same individual moving northwards before it met its untimely end. It will be interesting to see whether any BUBO Listers were involved in these sightings!
The full BOURC and BBRC announcement can be read at http://newsbou.blogspot.com/2007/07/magnificent-frigatebird-admitted-to.html.