Thursday, 16 February 2012

Not at all common!

Anyone who needs to know will have already heard about the Common Yellowthroat reported in Newport, Gwent today though apparently been present for at least three days. Definitely not common here but abundant in the North American swamps and marshes.

It is interesting that three North American species made up a trio in 1989 when a Common Yellowthroat in Kent was joined not many miles away by a Golden-winged Warbler which in turn was in Britain at the same time as a Baltimore Oriole in Pembrokeshire which made up the threesome of over-wintering North American passerines.

The first Common Yellowthroat in Britain was found on Lundy, Devon in 1954, but the identity of the bird remained uncertain until specimen feather samples were sent to the British Museum following which confirmation was made though it was not possible to ascribe this individual to any particular race of this species of which there are twelve. Four years later in 1958 the first acceptable record of Baltimore Oriole for Britain was found, this bird was also on Lundy, Devon. A much earlier record of this species was of a bird found at Balta Sound, Shetland in 1889 but this record was eventually rejected, not surprising as the taxidermist George Bristow was involved, a man at the centre of the Hastings Rarities Affair.

The Golden-winged Warbler has the most interesting 'finders' story attached to it in that, in Kent in February 1989 a bird photographer on his way to post a letter glimpsed a small bird seen to come out of a Cotoneaster bush, he soon realised he was being treated to stunning views of an adult male Golden-winged Warbler. A crowd of 'twitchers' present during the first Saturday after its discovery was estimated at up to 3,000. This is a scarce species in the USA with a restricted breeding range and is considered an unlikely vagrant to Britain, as far as I am aware it remains the only Western Palearctic record.  

American Bittern Mike Watson 

No permissible photographs of any of the North American birds, but an excellent one of the American Bittern at Merritt Island NWR....much appreciated Mike. 


Warren Baker said...

I remember the Golden Winged Warbler Pete, I lived just 100yards away, but I wasn't that much into birds then, I didn't even go to see it!!!

Pete Woodruff said...

Thanks for this....Check your 'Inbox' Warren.