Changes to the British List (Dec 16)

12 December 2016

Changes to the British List

The British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee (BOURC) has accepted the following to Category A of the British List:

View the British List

Acadian Flycatcher Empidonax virescens
First-calendar-year, Dungeness, Kent, 22 September 2015 (photographed, DNA analysis).

The excellent description and photographs of this individual allowed identification. Identification was confirmed by DNA analysis from faecal matter, instead of feather or claw samples, as the bird was not trapped. The species is a potential trans-Atlantic vagrant being a long distance Nearctic migrant. There were no issues of provenance, as it is not known in captivity.

Breeds in eastern North America, wintering in southern Central America and northern South America.

It should be placed after Eastern Phoebe Sayornis phoebe on the British List.

‘Eastern’ Subalpine Warbler Sylvia cantillans cantillans
Second-calendar-year male, Fair Isle, Shetland, 8 May 2014 (photographed, trapped, DNA analysis).

This record established the taxon on the British List. The Subalpine Warbler complex has undergone revision resulting in the need for the reassessment of the new species and subspecies on the British List.

Breeds in southern Italy including Sicily, wintering in sub-Saharan Africa.

Chestnut Bunting Emberiza rutila
First-calendar-year male, Papa Westray, Orkney, 19-29 October 2015 (photographed).

This species has had a difficult history on route on to the British List, with all previous records being placed in Category E as the bird was a common import for the captive bird trade, and many escapes occurred. Following the EU bans on bird importation from the Far East in 2005 and 2007, the numbers found in Western Europe dropped. This individual, being a first-calendar-year found in the Northern Isles in autumn, had credentials to indicate that it arrived naturally. The species is a plausible vagrant from the Eastern Palearctic to Europe being a long distance migrant, and follows other accepted records in northern Europe.

Breeds in Siberia, northern Mongolia and north-eastern China, wintering in southern China, south-east Asia and north-east India.

It should be placed after Yellow-breasted Bunting Emberiza aureola on the British List.

Other decisions

Chinese Pond Heron Ardeola bacchus
New first record: adult, Eccles-on-Sea, Norfolk 31 October 2004 and East Dean, Hampshire 13 November 2004 (photographed), pre-dates the previously accepted first record of this species, and is therefore accepted as the first British record.

Category D
At the December 2016 BOURC meeting is was decided to revoke the rule in the BOURC Standing Orders whereby records placed in Category D remain in this Category for 15 years and undergo three rounds of review voting, before being placed in either Category A or Category E. This decision was taken to reflect remaining uncertainty about the origin of some species placed in Category E from Category D. Following this decision two species have returned to Category D, Marbled Duck Marmaronetta angustirostris and Mugimaki Flycatcher Ficedula mugimaki, with immediate effect.

Further details of these decisions will be published as part of the BOURC’s 47th report due to be published in Ibis in January 2018. Upon publication of these decisions, the British List stands at 605 species (Category A = 587; Category B = 8; Category C = 10).