Changes to the British List (13 Feb 2024)

The British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee (BOURC) has accepted the following to the British List.

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The following species has been added to Category A of the British List:

Stejneger’s Scoter Melanitta stejnegeri
One, male, second-calendar-year or older, Gullane Point, Lothian, 10-12, 17-18 December 2022 (photographed); same Ferny Ness, Lothian 13-14 December 2022; same Lower Largo, Fife, 24 April – 13 May 2023 (photographed).

Photo (right): Stejneger’s Scoter (second from left) © Graham Jepson

This Stejneger’s Scoter was discovered in Lothian amongst wintering Velvet Scoter M. fusca in one of their core British wintering grounds on the east coast of Scotland. What was likely the same individual was later relocated elsewhere in the Firth of Forth, in Fife, in spring 2023 (where, incredibly, it was present alongside up to four White-winged Scoters M. deglandi) and was later reported again in Lothian from 12 August 2023.

Stejneger’s Scoter is a highly migratory species and there is no indication that it has been held in captivity in Europe in recent years. The first Stejneger’s Scoter for the Western Palearctic was recorded in France in 1886 and since then it has been reported from 10 other European countries. Given this pattern of vagrancy it was an overdue species to reach Britain and has presumably been historically overlooked due to observer unfamiliarity with the taxon.

It should be placed after White-winged Scoter M. deglandi on the British List.

Stejneger’s Scoter breeds in Russia in Siberia from the Yenisey Basin to Kamchatka, in northeast Kazakhstan and north and west Mongolia, and migrates to winter in costal areas of the Kuril and Commander Islands, Japan and the east Korean Peninsula.

This change will be published as part of the BOURC’s 57th report due to be published in Ibis in January 2025. Upon publication of this change, the British List stands at 634 species (Category A = 616; Category B = 8; Category C = 10).

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