The 55th annual report of the British Birds Rarities Committee presents details of rare birds recorded in Britain in 2012. In general, the crop of rarities in 2012 fell below the exceptional year of 2011, but there was still much to enjoy. The impact of climate patterns on vagrancy was clearly apparent in 2012 with significant influxes of Glossy Ibis, Black-winged Stilt and Baillon’s Crake. These arrivals are all likely to have been a result of drought conditions in the Iberian Peninsula, which forced many individuals of these species to stray north of their typical range. The eastern Locustella warblers put in a good showing, including no fewer than three British mainland Pallas’s Grasshopper Warblers and one Lanceolated Warbler. An exceptional arrival of Olive-backed Pipit, which ensured that 2012 became the last year that this species would feature on the BBRC list. Buff-bellied Pipit was another pipit that appeared in record numbers, and they were followed by record numbers of another rarity that originates in Greenland and northern Canada: a ‘broad-front arrival’ of Hornemann’s Redpolls enabled observers away from the usual hotspots in the Northern Isles and the Outer Hebrides to enjoy these confiding, frosty finches.
The rarest birds featured in this report are as follows:
1st White-winged Scoter Melanitta d. deglandi, ‘Asian Red-rumped Swallow’ Cecropis d. daurica/japonica
2nd Chestnut-eared Bunting Emberiza fucata, Magnolia Warbler Setophaga magnolia
2nd & 3rd Short-billed Dowitcher Limnodromus griseus
3rdCanada Goose Branta canadensis interior/parvipes, Semipalmated Plover Charadrius semipalmatus
5th ‘American Black Tern’ Chlidonias niger surinamensis
6th Orphean Warbler Sylvia h. hortensis, Rock Bunting Emberiza cia
6th & 7th Hooded Merganser Lophodytes cucullatus
7th Eleonora’s Falcon Falco eleonorae
9th Siberian Rubythroat Calliope calliope
9th & 10th Spanish Sparrow Passer hispaniolensis
10th Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas
Conservation research news, reviews and news & comment complete the October issue, which is the usual bumper edition to incorporate as many illustrations and as much analysis as possible of the rarities in the BBRC report.