Fair Isle has come up with the goods once again, with yet another addition to the British List. A male Citril Finch was found on the island on 6th June, and was still present on at least the following day.
Although Citril Finches breed as close to Britain as eastern France, the species is relatively sedentary. However, there have been a few longer movements, including one in Finland between May and July 1995 (although this species is currently on category D of the Finnish list). The species is kept in captivity, although not especially commonly.
Citril Finch was actually on the British List in the past, but was removed when a bird taken in Great Yarmouth in 1904 was re-identified in the 1990s as actually being a Cape (Yellow-crowned) Canary.
For BUBO Listing purposes, Citril Finch has been added, as a provisional species, to the four authorities covering British listing, pending official acceptance. Obviously, if the record is later considered not acceptable by any authority then it will be removed from those lists.
One of the authorities used by BUBO Listing for Britain and Ireland is the checklist produced by Birdwatch magazine. Originally published in 2006, a second edition has been produced by Dominic Mitchell and Keith Vinicombe in the April 2008 edition. The changes incorporated in this new edition are now reflected within BUBO Listing.
The main differences are as follows:
- Pacific Diver added
- Yellow-nosed Albatross added
- Great Blue Heron added
- Northern Harrier split
- Amur Falcon removed
- Wilson's Snipe added
- Brown Skua removed, but replaced by 'Southern skua' Stercorarius sp. (we have not included this grouping within BUBO Listing)
- Glaucous-winged Gull added
- Long-billed Murrelet added
- Eastern Yellow Wagtail split
- Olive-tree Warbler added
- Canada Warbler added to the appendix of species recorded in Ireland but not Britain.
In addition, the ordering of the gulls and the Tringa sandpipers and allies has been altered and there are a few changes to latin names. Finally, Orphean Warbler from the first edition has been replaced by Western Orphean Warbler in this second edition.
BUBO Listing encourages British birders to consider making use of the Birdwatch authority in addition to a BOU list. Remember you can easily convert one to the other in 'Create New List'.
The British Ornithologists' Union Records Committee (BOURC) has recently published its 36th report, in the journal Ibis. BUBO Listing has now updated its BOU baselist to reflect the changes in the 36th report. The relevant changes are as follows:
Caspian Gull and American Herring Gull - now both treated as full species (as recommended by the taxonomic subcommitee). These were already on the BUBO BOU list but as provisional species, so are now no longer provisional.
Magnificent Frigatebird - added to category A on the basis of the 2005 Shropshire record. This was already on the BUBO BOU list but as a provisional species, so is now no longer provisional.
Olive-tree Warbler - added to category A on the basis of the 2006 Shetland record. This was already on the BUBO BOU list but as a provisional species, so is now no longer provisional.
Taxonomic sequences of the 'shanks' (Tringa, Actitis, Xenus) and the gulls have been altered.
Allen's Gallinule, (American) Purple Gallinule, Grey-tailed Tattler, Slender-billed Gull, Bonaparte's Gull, Black-headed Gull, Little Gull, Sabine's Gull, Belted Kingfisher, Varied Thrush, Willow Tit - changes to scientific names.
Of interest, six species remain as provisional BOU species on BUBO Listing, but await a decision from the BOURC: Lesser Canada Goose, Pacific Diver, Great Blue Heron, Glaucous-winged Gull, Elegant Tern and Asian Brown Flycatcher. Additionally, Yellow-nosed Albatross, Masked Booby and White-rumped Swift were all reported in 2007, but have not been added to BUBO yet, because they were recorded by no or few birders and no BUBO listers have requested to add these to their British lists yet.
The year 2008 got off to an exciting start in the UK with the announcement on 6th Jan that an adult White-crowned Sparrow was present in a garden in Cley, north Norfolk. The bird had been present a few days before the news was released, allowing time to organise viewing opportunities, albeit somewhat limited given the nature of the site. Hopefully, the bird will remain some time and allow more prolonged views than could reasonably be obtained on this first day.
White-crowned Sparrow is an extreme rarity in Britain, this bird being only the fourth record. The first two were both seen in May 1977, on Fair Isle and at Hornsea Mere, with the third being by Seaforth docks in Merseyside in October 1995 (and thus inevitably tainted by the likelihood of ship-assistance). In Ireland, one was present at Dursey Sound, Cork, in May 2003. The Norfolk bird is thus the first winter record of the species in Britain and Ireland. However, it is not unheard of for other Nearctic sparrows (notably White-throated Sparrow and Dark-eyed Junco) to occur at this time of year.
The 6th edition of the Clements World Checklist lists five subspecies of White-crowned Sparrow. On a preliminary examination of photos taken at Cley, the appearance is not inconsistent with that of the nominate race (the most likely genuine vagrant, breeding east to Newfoundland), with a pinkish bill, grey breast and black supraloral area. However, Byers, Olsson & Curson (Buntings & Sparrows - 1995) state that the race oriantha is not always distinguishable from the nominate; oriantha breeds in W North America, mostly in the E Rockies.
Well, there goes another first for Britain that the rest of us can no longer dream about finding. On Friday 7th December 2007, a juvenile Great Blue Heron was discovered at Lower Moors on St Mary's, Scilly, where it stayed for the rest of the day. However, this may turn out to be a major blocker in future as by the following morning it was gone, denying it a place on many keen listers' lists, and denying the Isles of Scilly travel operators a large amount of unseasonal revenue! It seems reasonably likely that it may yet get relocated, however, lurking elsewhere in Scilly or west Cornwall.
Great Blue Heron has long been anticipated as an addition to the British list, with a number of records from the Azores but also one as close as Ouessant, north-west France, in 1996. Moreover, a number have been documented crossing the Atlantic on board ships. For an excellent summary of the identification of Great Blue Heron in a British context, see Birding World 11(1).
Given that it was well-watched by multiple observers and that perfectly convincing pictures of the bird have been posted online (e.g. see Birdguides) Great Blue Heron has been added as a provisional new species for BUBO lists using the BOU, UK400, Birdwatch and 'Official British & Irish' authorities. In the event of it being rejected in future, however, it would then be removed from all such lists.