The British Birds Rarities Committee (BBRC) has announced that it is to consider all records of White-spotted Bluethroat Luscinia svecica cyanecula, a decision backdated to the 1st January 2021, with any sightings of breeding-plumaged males, or females/non-breeding males where there is reasonable evidence to suggest that subspecies, welcomed for submission.
White-spotted Bluethroat is a rare migrant to Britain, with records chiefly falling in March and the first half of April, a time when any Bluethroat seen is almost certainly going to be that subspecies. Red-spotted Bluethroat is a more numerous migrant that occurs later in the spring, primarily in May (there are just three previous April occurrences, the earliest being on 18th). The subspecies is also a very rare breeder in Britain, with males very occasionally setting up territory (recent examples of such behaviour come from Cambridgeshire and Norfolk).
Greater Manchester has only one record of Bluethroat, with a male at Haigh on the 18th May 1985, though surprisingly, the racial identification of this bird appears not to have been made by the observer.
On 8th May 2020, Rob and Sonia Adderley found a striking male flava type wagtail at Audenshaw Reservoirs which they strongly suspected was an ‘Iberian Wagtail’ Motacilla flava iberiae, a very rare subspecies of Yellow Wagtail.
Although the encounter was all to brief and the bird was never relocated after its initial finding, Rob managed to obtain some images of the bird which were submitted to the British Birds Rarities Committee along with a written description. Whilst the bird’s call was not heard, the previous requirement for the raspy call to be noted and fully documented was recently relaxed and with everything else about the bird fulfilling the relevant criteria, it was unanimously accepted. As it stands, it represents the 4th record for Britain!
Whilst the record won’t add to the current official County List due it being ‘merely’ a subspecies, it does symbolize hope and optimism in the county for what can be found with some diligence, perseverance and endeavour. Well done Rob and Sonia!
The British Birds Rarities Committee has now added Lesser Scaup (re-added really as it was only removed in 2015!) and Kentish Plover to its list of species assessed by them.
This is effective for records from January 1st 2020 and as a result, both species will be dropped from the County Rarities Committee's list of species assessed by them.
Lesser Scaup at Pennington Flash, GM and Kentish Plover at Audenshaw Reservoirs, GM both courtesy of John Tymon
The 2019 summary of the Bittern Breeding season in the UK by Simon Wotton is now available on the 'miscellaneous' section of the articles.
During these cold winter months (did I forget to add wet in there too?) its always nice to get some warmth from ready a trip report from somewhere closer too the equator and preferably filled with birds, and Chris and Vicky Harper's North-east Yukutan Peninsula report from 2016 does just that!
So, put yourself some time aside and delve in, feel the warm and imagine those birds. Get yourself over the to the North American trip reports now!
I don't suppose you've ever wondered what the very small number of Greater Manchester Bird Recording Group (GMBRG) officials do with your bird records outside maybe the County Bird Report (which is far from dead, contrary to popular belief!) but let's pretend just for a minute, that you did.
Well, the following document gives you just some idea of the work that YOUR bird records go towards (well, those that take the time to send theirs in anyway), work that is immensely valuable and more often than not, entirely essential!
We do of course always welcome observer's records and anyone wanting to contribute should refer to the 'Record Submission' section of this website or direct their queries to either myself or Steve Atkins (details on the 'Who's Who' page).
Either way, please take the small amount of time it takes to read the newsletter and associated documents and if you don't already, then consider the valuable work your bird records could be doing.
All the very best, Ian
Considering the propensity of county gull roosts and their dedicated band of observers over the years, it has always been somewhat surprising that Bonaparte's Gull has never been claimed, never mind officially accepted, anywhere in the county. It has not been for the want of trying either but finally, the duck (well, gull...) has been broken.
On January 26th, 2019 Heaton Park Reservoir hosted the first ever record of Bonaparte's Gull, now accepted by BBRC, and became the 319th species to be officially recorded in the county. Congratulations to the two lucky, or at the very least observant observers, Pete Berry and Simon Johnson.