23 July 2008 - New breeding species for the UK: Cattle Egret
News is released today that a pair of Cattle Egrets Bubulcus ibis has bred this year in Somerset, fledging at least one young. This is the first breeding of this species in the UK and follows the unprecedented influx of Cattle Egrets during the last winter and early spring into south-western counties of England. [Postscript: the Somerset Bird Club subsequently confirmed that a second pair had nesting successfully in the county, with one juvenile being seen at a second site.]
Cattle Egrets, as their name implies, forage around herd animals in drier habitats than other herons. They are familiar birds of the African plains, picking off insects disturbed by the passage of large animals such as Wildebeest but, as in Somerset, they are just as happy following Friesans, and will even hitch a ride on the animals.
Cattle Egrets have a wide global distribution, and have extended their range considerably in the 20th century. They are quite common in south-west Europe, particularly Spain, and have been increasing in France. Over the past twenty years, the similar Little Egret Egretta garzetta has firmly established itself as a breeding species in England. Although some may point to this record as being a result of global warming, especially following on from the colonisation of other species from France, such as Little Egrets and Cetti's Warbler Cettia cetti, other species with similar European ranges (e.g. European Serin Serinus serinus and Zitting Cisticola Cisticola juncidis) have not established breeding populations. Indeed Cattle Egret colonised the Americas in the late 19th century, and then spread both north to south-east Canada and south to Chile and Argentina. The successful over-wintering of Cattle Egrets last winter would, however, have been aided by the mild weather.
Cattle Egret becomes the ninth new species (where breeding has been confirmed by presence of eggs and/or young) to be added to the breeding avifauna of the UK since 1981 as the list below shows:
1981 - Common Crane Grus grus
1982 - Common Rosefinch Carpodacus erythrinus
1984 - Little Bittern Ixobrychus minutus
1984 - Parrot Crossbill Loxia pytyopsittacus
1995 - Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis
1996 - Little Egret Egretta garzetta
2001 - Red-necked Grebe Podiceps grisegena
2004 - Pectoral Sandpiper Calidris melanotos
This list excludes hybrid pairs, non-native species and species which formerly bred and which have been subject to re-introduction programmes. The Panel is preparing reference data on first breeding by species for posting on this website in the future. More information on these records is available from the reports of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (see side panel for link to Annual Reports).
11 July 2008 - Black-winged Stilts in Cheshire not successful in fledging young
The pair of Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus at Neumann's Flash in Cheshire hatched three eggs on 28th May but unfortunately two chicks died soon afterwards and the remaining chick was predated on 20th June.
28 May 2008 - Black-winged Stilts hatch three young
The pair of Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus nesting at Neumann's Flash in Cheshire hatched three young today.
22 May 2008 - Black-winged Stilt nesting in England
A pair of Black-winged Stilts Himantopus himantopus is nesting at Neumann's Flash in Cheshire and the RSPB have set up viewing facilities under their "Aren't Birds Brilliant" scheme. This is only the seventh time that this species has attempted to nest in the UK (see below). Only two previous attempts have been successful in fledging young (1945 and 1987). Full details of viewing here www.rspb.org.uk/brilliant/sites/cheshirestilts/index.asp
Nesting attempts by Black-winged Stilts in the UK (from RBBP files):
1945 - Nottinghamshire
1983 - Cambridgeshire
1987 - Norfolk
1993 - Cheshire
2005 - Suffolk
2006 - Lancashire
7 May 2008 - News of the next RBBP report and additions to the website
The next report of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel, covering 2005, is to be published in the June 2008 issue of British Birds (volume 101, number 6). This report presents details of the status of 79 species of rare and scarce native breeding birds which bred or attempted to breed in the UK in 2005. It includes references to the impact of climate change on our rarer breeding birds and also provides a European perspective for some species such as Eurasian Spoonbill Platalea leucorodia and Golden Oriole Oriolus oriolus. Full details of the numbers and distribution of Marsh Harriers Circus aeruginosus, which were the subject of a full nationwide survey in 2005, is presented. We report a record total of at least 363 breeding females. County totals for four less scarce species (Little Ringed Plover Charadrius dubius, Little Tern Sternula albifrons, Barn Owl Tyto alba and Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis) in 2005 can also be downloaded via the Species Information panel.
To obtain a copy of the report contact British Birds at Unit 3, The Applestore, Workhouse Lane, Icklesham, East Sussex TN36 4BJ. See www.britishbirds.co.uk for further details.
The most recently published RBBP reports covering rare and scarce native breeding species in 2003-04 and rare non-native breeding species in the three years 2003-05 have been added to the Reports section of the website, from where they can be downloaded as PDFs.
The recording areas used by the Rare Breeding Birds Panel in its reports can now be viewed from the Reports page or here --> RBBP Recording Areas.
The list of species considered by the Panel has been updated to include Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis
because of a breeding attempt in 2004 which has only recently come to light. More details on this unusual event will be available on this website in the near future.
17 December 2007 - Changes to the RBBP List
Over the last year, RBBP has been reviewing the species considered by the Panel and has made a few small changes which come into effect with the submissions by county recorders covering the 2006 breeding season.
Three new species have been added: Shoveler Anas clypeata, Water Rail Rallus aquaticus and Hawfinch Coccothraustes coccothraustes. Full details of breeding status and sites are requested for these species, which have been added as they are not well monitored by other surveys.
It is recognised that for Water Rail especially the numbers recorded are closely affected by the monitoring effort. And in some parts of the country, when specifically looked for, Water Rail has been found not be a particularly rare species, apparently being found in even quite small nutrient-rich wetlands. Thus on the islands of Colonsay and Oronsay (Argyll), 19 territories were found in 2006, and a survey of wetlands in Kent in 2003 located 250-300 territories. Nevertheless inclusion by county recorders of any records they receive from potential breeding sites would be most welcome. This would at least help identify the sites which hold breeding Water Rails and may assist in the design of possible future national surveys for this species. As Water Rail is not covered by any of the established monitoring programmes the Panel would like to encourage regular annual recording at specific sites, with the possibility of censusing using playback of calling birds.
Change from category A to category B
Cettiís Warbler Cettia cetti has been moved into the less scarce species category (B) meaning that a county total only is required for those counties where there are more than ten pairs or ten sites. In 2004, a new maximum total of 1,137 singing males was reported in the Panelís report but even this number is probably an underestimate. This compares with just 332 Ďpairsí reported in the 1994 report. Of the 30 counties holding breeding Cettiís Warblers in 2003-2004, only 11 held ten or fewer pairs. Following further mild winters, it is expected that numbers will be even higher when the figures for 2005 are analysed and published in BB next spring.
In addition, the following four species are to be removed from the Panelís list, also effective for records covering the 2006 breeding season: Barn Owl Tyto alba, Common Kingfisher Alcedo atthis, Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus and Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra. These species are all on Schedule 1, and were consequently added to the Panelís lists in 1996 along with all other species on Schedule 1. However, in the ten years since then, data submitted to the Panel have not been able to produce useful statistics on their status in the UK. Kingfisher and Common Crossbill are both relatively common and widespread and are monitored by BBS, with Kingfisher also by WBBS. There is now a specific Barn Owl Monitoring Programme run by the BTO. Unfortunately there are no regular monitoring programmes for Crested Tit. Very few Schedule 1 forms are submitted and the two county recorders which have this species in their areas receive very little data which allow RBBP to make any assessment of population size or even distribution. The 2005 report will include a summary of the data received for these four species during the years 1996-2005.
29 October 2007 - RBBP Report on rare non-native breeding birds in Britain to be published in British Birds November 2007 issue
The latest Report of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel is published in the November issue of British Birds. This report covers 2003, 2004 and 2005. Information on 25 species is included in this report. The report presents an extended review of breeding Eagle Owls in the UK. The first recorded breeding attempt by this species was in Moray in northern Scotland in 1984. Breeding has been regular in northern England since 1997 when one or two pairs have bred each year. Full details of the productivity of the pair which bred in Yorkshire during this period are given: 23 young were fledged between 1997 and 2005, with 2001 being the only year when no young were reared.
A copy of the November issue of British Birds containing this report can be purchased from British Birds, Unit 3, The Applestore, Workhouse Lane, Icklesham, East Sussex TN36 4BJ. See www.britishbirds.co.uk for further details.
June 2007 - 2003-04 RBBP Report now published in British Birds June 2007 issue
The latest Report of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel has now been published in the June issue of British Birds. This report covers 2003 and 2004. A total of 90 species is included, with up to date figures of breeding pairs for all of these, ranging from Ring-necked Duck, Yellow-legged Gull, Pectoral Sandpiper, Shore Lark and Red-backed Shrike with just single confirmed breeding pairs to ten species with populations of over 1,000 pairs. Two examples are included here to whet your appetite.
Green Sandpiper Tringa ochropus
2003 One site: one pair. 2004 Two sites: 2 to 3 pairs. It is encouraging that birds are returning to the site used since 1999 and producing young in most years, two pairs being present in 2004. A second site was also occupied in 2004, making this one of the most productive years on record for Green Sandpiper.
Scotland, N and W
Highland 2003 One site: one bird displaying in April and a pair alarm-calling with young close by in June.
Highland 2004 Two sites: (1) two pairs alarm calling with young present; (2) one pair also alarming, on two dates.
European Serin Serinus serinus
2003 Three sites: 1 to 3 pairs. The confirmed breeding record in Norfolk was the first for that county, while another breeding attempt was reported elsewhere in the same county. Both are documented by Bloomfield (2004). It is speculated that the prolonged spells of warm and sunny weather in spring and summer 2003 contributed to this occurrence. This was also the first confirmed nesting reported to the Panel since 1996, when a pair bred in Kent.
Essex 2003 One site: one singing male on 3rd August.
Norfolk 2003 Two sites: (1) pair bred at Holkham, fledging at least two young; (2) pair built nest and were seen copulating near Norwich, but no further evidence of breeding was recorded.
Additional data from these years are available. For county totals of Little Ringed Plover, Barn Owl and Common Kingfisher