Sunday 24 September 2023

Weather front brings in the Yanks

A weather system that travelled down the east coast of America and across the Atlantic has produced a truly memorable fall of American vagrant birds to our shores.

The fall started with an American Yellow Warbler on Foula in Shetland between 5th and 11th September 
This will be the 7th record for Britain with the last previous being 2017 at Portland a bird I should have twitched but due to work I wasn't able to.

Next came a Tennessee Warbler on St Kilda between 15th and 18th September followed by another on Barra on 21st September still there on 23rd but not reported as I type this on 24th.
There are six previous records so these will be 7 and 8 when accepted. 

Then came the arrival of anticipated American Cliff Swallows with the first to arrive being found in Kent on 19th September which I twitched on 20th, it wasn't seen after this. Another was found on Scilly on 20th and another in Glamorgan on 22nd. There have been only 13 previous records in the UK one of which I saw in 2016 at Minsmere so the Kent bird is my second in Britain.

An Alder Flycatcher was found on Skokholm on 20th September and is still present as I type here on 24th. It has been twitched by a few but access to the island is restricted and of course I have the no island rule to help me deal with these troublesome twitches. There have only been two previous records for Alder Flycatcher 2008 in Cornwall and 2010 in Norfolk.

Also found on 20th September was Britains third and first mainland record of Magnolia Warbler.
This bird remained long enough for me to twitch it and is still there as I type on 24th. The previous two records were Scilly in 1982 and Fair Isle in 2012.

They kept arriving and on 21st a Bobolink was found on Skokholm (33 previous records for Britain) then a Black and White Warbler was trapped and ringed on Bardsey Island followed by a different bird being trapped on 25th. These represent Britains 18th and 19th Record.

On 21st September the finding of a Bay-breasted Warbler on Ramsey Island sent the big listers into meltdown. This was a bird that had one previous accepted record which was not twitchable and remained a target for the must haves. The island has a strict allowance of visitors and is dependent on weather for boat crossings so nobody could get access to the bird until 23rd. 120 people on three boats would be allowed access and so the challenge of gaining access began. Again my no island rule took the pressure of me on this rarity.

A Northern Parula was seen on Scilly on 23rd. This will be the 16th record for Britain when accepted.
An Oven Bird was also found on Rum on 23rd with only six previous records this will be the 7th.

The same day saw a Empidonax Sp. found in Gwynedd which has not yet been ID'd beyond that. Then a Philadelphia Vireo was found on Barra in the Outer Hebrides. This is a bird that has only previously graced our shores once before with a record of one on Scilly in 1987 but access to Barra is difficult so twitching this bird even for the top listers may be beyond the challenge and as I type it's reported as "no further sign".

The best of the bunch was the Canada Warbler found on MOD land on St.Govan's head Pembrokeshire. It was found by the same guy that found the Magnolia Warbler and is a first for Britain.
I managed to twitch this bird. As I type on the 24th it's being reported as "no further sign"

Magnolia Warbler

So I connected with three of the eleven Yanks this week, I know some that connected with five but what a week for all British birders to enjoy. Now lets see what Autumn brings!

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