Incredible birds

Vagrancy in birds is a subject of great fascination and some mystery. This page considers some of the most incredible bird records of all time, focusing on species recorded in the Western Palearctic, though also beyond. Assessing which particular records are the most 'incredible' is of course a highly subjective task, complicated by all sorts of uncertainties. However, the following list is a personal view of a few that are up there.

The top places on my list go to seabird residents of the North Pacific, though it's very difficult to balance these against the feats of, for example, small passerine migrants. For top spot I have selected the single Western Palearctic record of Aleutian Tern, a resident of the Aleutian Islands in the North Pacific Ocean, which by the early 1990s had not even been recorded in Canada or the USA outside Alaska - a record which will take some beating!

Aleutian Tern (N Pacific only)

Farne Islands, Northumberland, 28-29 May 1979; first seen at 1.30pm by R. Haywood, warden on Inner Farne; seen down to 4m on the following day before last sighting at 5.30pm; little is known about the species, and it has not even been recorded off the west coast of North America south of Alaska, and it has only recently been found to winter off Indonesia and Malaysia.

Parakeet Auklet (N Pacific only)

Lake Vättern, Sweden, mid-Dec 1860 (after a severe Easterly gale); the implication is that this individual was already far from home before being caught up in the storm and blown overland to its final destination; it is hard to imagine what precise route it may have taken, but the species is normally confined to the North Pacific and does not occur in the Arctic Ocean.

Long-billed Murrelet (Brachyramphus perdix, formerly considered as a race of Marbled Murrelet Brachyramphus marmoratus perdix) (N Pacific only)

Zollikon, Lake Zurich, Switzerland, between 15 and 18 December 1997 - discovered dead in a fishing net, presumed drowned; the distribution of this species is confined to the North Pacific where it breeds individually in forest up to 70km from the sea, hence is well able to travel overland and indeed has been recorded as a vagrant in continental North America as far as the Atlantic coast; nevertheless, assuming an eastern origin, the feat of this seabird in reaching western Europe, perhaps travelling in excess of 8000 miles overland, surpasses even the most extreme Siberian passerine vagrants; furthermore, there are plenty of large water bodies along possible routes so why this individual persisted in westward flight just this far remains a mystery; it is also just possible that the bird arrived from the west, the distances being similar, but inland vagrancy would then be much less likely.

Ancient Murrelet (N Pacific only)

Lundy, Devon, 27 May 1989; found at 1.45pm and seen again at 2.45pm before flying out to sea; seen again the following morning before flying out to sea again; a group of birders who had set off for the island, despite the fact that it would be dark when they got there, miraculously encountered the bird at sea about 6 miles east of the island, and watched it at distances down to 2m swimming in the company of a much shyer Razorbill; the bird was subsequently seen by many thousands of birdwatchers up to 26 June 1990, between 4 April and 20 June 1991 and between 30 March and 29 April 1992 when it was last seen. In 1989 larger than usual numbers of Ancient Murrelet had been seen along the California coast, with 4 venturing inland. So it seems that the bird must have arrived from the west, unlike the Parakeet Auklet about which surely travelled in the opposite direction...

Crested Auklet (N Pacific only)

45 miles NE off Langanes, Iceland, August 1912

Tufted Puffin (N Pacific only)

Laholmsbukten, Lagoset, Sweden, Jun 1994 - adult in breeding plumage offshore.

Glaucous-winged Gull (N Pacific only)

El Hierro, Canary Islands, Feb 1992 and Essaouira, Morocco, Jan 1995; both were adults and presumably the same individual.

Swinhoe's Petrel (Sea of Japan, winters off SE Asia)

Several north Atlantic records in recent years, see linked document for more details. The species had never been recorded on this side of the world in earlier years and its sudden appearance here is still unexplained.

Slender-billed Curlew (Siberia, winters NW Africa)

Druridge, Northumberland 4-7 May 1998; the breeding grounds of this species remain unknown; neither are there any regular wintering sites with only a handful of sightings of wintering birds in recent years. See linked document for more details about recent occurrences.

Elegant Tern (Mexico/USA - Pacific coast only)

1-2 birds, Arachaon, France, 1974-1987

22 June-3 July, Carlingford Lo., Co. Down/1 Aug, Ballymacoda, Co. Cork, 1982 (possibly one of the above)

18 May 2002 and again on 8 July, near Dawlish Warren, Devon, UK

18-23 October 2002 single at Dingle, County Kerry, Ireland

Jun-Aug 2003 - records from various places in France

As with the last species, the number of records seems to be increasing with several more recent claims from Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Italy and the Netherlands (see linked document).

However, Elegant is strictly a Pacific seabird, and had only been seen once on the Atlantic side of the USA before 1999! Thus there has recently (27 Feb 01->) been an interesting debate about the likely origins (and identification) of these birds on the ID Frontiers website.

Jouanin's Petrel (Arabian Sea, vagrant to Hawaii)

Cimadolmo, Treviso, Italy, 2 November 1953; 3 seen during a storm, one was collected; must have arrived via the Red Sea.

Varied Thrush (USA/Canada W coast)

1st win. male, Nanquidno, 9-23 Nov 1982; an abnormally-coloured individual, lacking the usual orange tone; grey-plumaged individuals are rarely recorded in wild birds, but would seem even less likely for a captive bird; this helped to exclude the escape possibility for such an unexpected vagrant from the west coast of America

Swainson's Hawk (W USA/Canada)

2nd year, Røst, Norway, 6 May 1986; this species is only rarely recorded on the east coast of America

Swainson's Thrush (N America)

Ukraine, November 1893; to reach Europe over the Atlantic is one then continue as far as Ukraine is quite an achievement (presumably a reverse migrant)

Fox Sparrow (N America)

Liguria, Italy, 1930

Rose-breasted Grosbeak (N America)

Yugoslavia, October 1976

Black-throated Green Warbler (N America)

adult male Heligoland, 19 November 1858

Hermit Thrush (N America)

Luxembourg, August 1975; this bird had presumably arrived from America in spring or the previous autumn

Red-necked Stint (E Siberia, wintering SE Asia to Australia, a few reaching South Africa)

various records for US east coast, and Bermuda, e.g. single(s), Connecticut, July-August 2000; these are not strictly "Western Palearctic" records, but the birds presumably originated in Siberia and followed a west-to-east route. The Little Stint, which breeds in Siberia further west than the Red-necked (as far as the extreme north of Scandinavia) and winters down into South Africa, has also been recorded on the east coast of the US, and Bermuda! Such birds must have followed an opposite east-to-west route, but may have originated from a region in Siberia neighbouring the breeding grounds of the Red-necked birds. Further, the Little Stint has also been recorded on the West coast of the US, e.g. California (Sept 1983). It would be very interesting to know if either species occurs at the southern tip of South America, as might be expected.

Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Siberia, winters Australia)

Tristan da Cuhna, Jun 1950

White's Thrush (Siberia, winters SE Asia)

Greenland, Oct 1954

Siberian Rubythroat (Siberia/NE China, wintering SE Asia as far as India)

adult male, Iceland, 8 Nov 1943

Lanceolated Warbler (Siberia to NE China & N Japan, wintering between NE India and Philippines)

c. 70 nautical miles N of Bear Island, Arctic Ocean, 15 September 1982

Tickell's Thrush (W Himalayas, winters E India)

Heligoland, 15 October 1932

Long-tailed Shrike (Central Asia, wintering Indian subcontinent)

Howmore, South Uist, 27 October-4 November 2000

Shrenck's Little Bittern (China, winters Indonesia)

1st win. female, Piemonte, Italy, 12 November 1912

Eastern Crowned Warbler (China, winters India/SE Asia)

single collected Heligoland, 4 October 1843

Chinese Pond Heron (China, winters SE Asia/Indonesia)

Hettesylt, Norway, autumn 1973

Brunnich's Guillemot (Arctic Ocean)

Austria, 1882; also recorded in Romania!

Ross's Gull (Arctic Ocean)

Sardinia, January 1906

Royal Tern (USA, West Africa)

1st win. bird ringed USA, Kenfig Pool, 24 Nov 1989; there have been five British Isles records; finding a ringed bird was a remarkable occurrence and proved transatlantic vagrancy

Black-browed Albatross (S Atlantic)

female, Faeroes, 1860-May 1894, i.e. for 34 years

Spitzbergen, June 1878 (rather a long way from home!)

"Albert Ross", a female, first recorded at Bass Rock 1967-1969 and, not finding a mate there, presumably the same bird at the Saito outcrop, Hermaness, Shetland 1970-1995

Ascension Frigatebird (S Atlantic)

Tiree, 10 July 1953 (reidentified as this species in 2002, BB 96, 2)

Killitz's Plover (Africa S of Sahara, also Egypt; resident)

single, S Norway, May 1913

Moussier's Redstart (N Africa resident)

Dinas Head, Dyfed, 24 April 1988

White-crowned Black Wheatear (N Africa/Middle East/Arabia resident)

Kessingland, Suffolk, 1-5 June 1982


This section is a quick overview of some of the remarkable vagrants recorded in Britain and Ireland over the years. Most records relate to species normally resident in far-flung parts of the globe (Asia, America and the Arctic Oceans), but which have made amazing flights of thousands of miles to UK shores. Others are amazing in being residents of regions nearer the UK but which are very sedentary and rarely recorded outside these areas (e.g. some north African & Middle Eastern species).

[NOTE: the original version of this document was based on "Britain and Ireland" totals published by the UK 400 Club, as of 19/1/00 (totaling 608 species). Since this information is now available by subscription only, I've updated the totals at the foot of the page with BBRC accepted records for species on the BOU official British list (covering England, Scotland and Wales and "at sea" within British Economic Zone (200 miles), but excluding Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands) up to end 2001 (cf Statistics page on BBRC website) totaling 565 species. The difference in the overall species total is due to various differences the geographical recording areas, in attribution of full species status (versus subspecies), in acceptance of "natural" occurrence in the region and simply in acceptance of particular records on the basis of the evidence. Further details are in this linked spreadsheet (80kB) - but note that it is far beyond the scope or intention of this particular website to enter into a debate about these matters. Notwithstanding the above, records from within both versions of UK recording systems are considered here since many of the most interesting records are precisely those which might arouse suspicion of not being natural vagrants, being deemed perhaps too unlikely, but which nevertheless most likely were "real" vagrants!]

Whichever list one considers, the array of bird species recorded in the UK and Ireland is quite phenomenal and exceeds the total of birds which regularly breed in the UK by about a factor of three. Vagrant species could be defined as either those from far afield, i.e. America, Siberia, the Arctic or the Southern Oceans, or those which are mainly resident or scare species from nearer in Eurasia/Africa. The following summary attempts to classify records according to these 'regions'.


Over 100 of the vagrant species originate from the Americas. Of these there have been over 1000 records each of waders and ducks, with 26 and 11 species represented respectively, and over 500 records of American gulls/terns of 8 species. On top of this, there have been nearly 50 bitterns, herons and cranes and smaller numbers of grebes (28), nighjars (16), rails (11), raptors (5), kingfishers (2), cormorants (2) and a single gallinule and coot. The large numbers in the former categories reflect the fact that most waders are long-distance migrants, and thus better able to survive an Atlantic crossing, whilst some of the waterbirds can survive at sea. Nevertheless, some of these species, such as the Elegant Tern, are exceedingly rare even on the Atlantic coast of America and their arrival on this side of the Pond is phenomenal.

Yet more incredible are some of the records of smaller landbirds (mainly passerines) such as the 107 sparrows, buntings and larks of 14 species, 103 American thrushes of 11 species, 68 cuckoos of 2 species and smaller numbers of orioles (20), tanagers (5), pipits (4), mockingbirds (3), waxwings (2), woodpeckers (2), catbirds (2) and single nuthatch, thrasher, and dove.

Pride of place though goes to the delicate hirundines, vireos and New-World warblers. There have been 14 records of hirundines of 4 species. The three vireos weigh in with over 100 records, of which the majority are the Red-throated Vireo, with records into double figures in good years. Finally, there have also been over 100 New World warblers of 19 species, led by the Blackpoll Warbler with 33 records, and including 7 species only recorded on a single occasion (Cape May, Magnolia, Bay-breasted, Wilson's, Hooded, Golden-winged, Blue-winged)


Turning to the East, the records of birds which have arrived in Western Europe from Siberia and SE Asia are perhaps even more amazing than many of the American visitors, with the distances involved being generally much greater. Having personally observed the great expanse of Siberia from a plane en route to Japan, it is mind-boggling to imagine the flight of a tiny warbler or pipit over these great distances.

Of course there are many 'common' waders and waterbirds which routinely arrive on our shores from their breeding grounds in the remote north of Siberia, for example the Brent Goose and Sanderling. However, most of the species of interest here breed in Siberia around and beyond Lake Baikal, east to NE USSR, China, Japan and Korea and their normal wintering areas are generally in the Middle East, through the Indian subcontinent and SE Asia to Indonesia and even Australia.

Of the wader species which breed in the remotest part of Siberia and winter no nearer the UK than SE Asia, the 24 records of Sharp-tailed Sandpiper, 5 of Red-necked Stint and 3 Oriental Pratincoles and 2 each of Grey-tailed Tattler, Little Whimbrel and Great Knot stand out.

The single record of Slender-billed Curlew is even more incredible, given the species' status as being on the brink of extinction with a mere handful of records from anywhere in the world in recent years (see this linked page for more information).

However, the most numerous birds in the Siberian category are the warblers, with the tiny Yellow-browed Warbler dominating the list. Though this warbler does breed as far east as the Ural mountains, it normally winters in SE Asia. Nevertheless, thousands have been recorded from British coasts and islands in the late autumn and some even reach the Faroes and Iceland. Of the others, the numerous records of the equally diminutive Pallas's (500+), Dusky (c. 200) and Radde's (c. 250) warblers belie the fact that these species breed to the NE of the Himalayas. Whilst most probably ultimately perish in the Atlantic very small numbers have successfully overwintered in the UK.

Next in terms of numbers are the pipits, with about 2000 records of 4 species. Of these, the Richard's Pipit is recorded in the UK in significant numbers annually (50+ pa) though it breeds no nearer than Siberia and winters in Australia, India and South-east Asia and the Horn of Africa (with very small numbers now also found in Spain and north Africa). Records of Blyth's Pipits are increasing despite its breeding ground being Mongolia and wintering quarters India.

These are followed by 7 species of bunting, totalling over 500 records, though it is harder to distinguish some of these from escaped cage birds.

The travels of the 7 vagrant Siberian thrushes are also phenomenal (130+ records), with the c. 50 records of White's Thrush, a breeder in the region around Lake Baikal east to Japan, being perhaps the most remarkable.

There have been over 200 records of the 5 species of shrike, 150+ records of the two Siberian wagtail species, 20+ records of the Red-flanked Bluetail, a handful of records of Siberian Rubythroat (now 4) and Siberian Blue Robin. Two flycatcher species are included in the UK400 club totals: Asian Brown Flycatcher and Mugimaki Flycatcher, but not accepted on category A by BBRC.

Birds which have reached the UK from the most remote parts of eastern Asia include the 8 records of two species of swift, the Needle-tailed (6) and Pacific Swifts (2), which whilst breeding in China, Japan and Korea, are normally found wintering from Indonesia down to New Zealand.


Summarising the records for birds normally confined in distribution to Eurasian regions nearer to the UK is less straightforward, but the most interesting are those of species which are relatively sedentary, rare or of very restricted range. Typical examples are 10 species of raptor including vultures [Black (1), Griffon (2) and Egyptian (3)], eagles [Short-toed (2), Booted Eagle (2), Greater Spotted (9), vagrant White-tailed (23)] together with Eleonora's Falcon (3), Pallid Harrier (9) and Lesser Kestrel (23). The 3 bustard species weigh in with Little (188), Great (30) and Macqueen's (5). Egyptian and Red-necked Nightjars have been recorded twice and once respectively.

Warblers of interest include those which are normally only found around the Mediterranean and in North Africa and include a number which are substantially resident: Desert Warbler (11), Olivaceous Warbler (10), Moustached Warbler (7), Orphean Warbler (6), Zittings Cisticola (5), Ruppell's Warbler (5), Eastern Bonelli's Warbler (5), Iberian Chiffchaff (4), Marmora's Warbler (3) and Spectacled Warbler (3). Others inhabit Caspian regions: Caspian Reed Warbler (12) and Green Warbler (1).

The 5 vagrant wheatears (187 records) also include species normally resident in North Africa. Other interesting species include Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (8), Rock Thrush (26), Blue Rock Thrush (3), Zittings Cisticola (11), Collared Flycatcher (23), Short-toed Treecreeper (21), Wallcreeper (11), Trumpeter Finch (8), Rock Bunting (6), Cretzschmar's Bunting (3), Spanish Sparrow (6), and single Rock Sparrow and Moussier's Redstart.


True Arctic species are represented by White-billed Diver (200+), Two-barred Crossbill (138), Ross's Gull (79), King Eider (77), Ivory Gull (39), Brunnich's Guillemot (32), Harlequin Duck (15), Steller's Eider (14) and a single Barrow's Goldeneye.


Finally there are records of vagrant seabirds birds from the south - Wilson's Petrels (250+), Soft-plumaged Petrels (16), Black-browed Albatross (12) - and some scare species which do breed as far north as the Canaries and islands off Iberia - Bulwer's Petrels (4), Black-capped Petrels (2) (Caribbean) and single White-faced Petrel and Madeiran Petrels.

A summary of some of the British & Irish records referred to above is set out below, classified into species groups and arranged within each group in ascending order of rarity. Note that some species groups do not sit very comfortably together or may not relate perfectly to the 'region' assigned, but the classifications give a rough idea of origins. The British list categories detailed in the first column are defined at the end.


Syntax: BBRC Category, "UK 400 club" Category, Species English name, Species Latin name, Number of BBRC accepted records in Britain and Ireland to end of 1957, Number of BBRC accepted records in Britain from 1958 to end of 2001, Number of "UK 400 club" records for Britain and Ireland to end 1998


[A ,A ] Needle-tailed Swift (Hirundapus caudacutus) (0,5;6)

[A ,A ] Swinhoe's Petrel (Oceanodroma monorhis) (0,4;3)

[A ,A ] Pacific Swift (Apus pacificus) (0,3;2)

[A ,A ] Aleutian Tern (Sterna aleutica) (0,1;1)

[A ,A ] Ancient Murrelet (Synthliboramphus antiquus) (0,1;1)

[- ,IR] Elegant Tern (Sterna elegans) (-,-;1)


American Waterbirds (excluding ducks/geese/swans)

[A ,A ] American Bittern (Botaurus lentiginosus) (50,7;39)

[A ,A ] Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps) (0,36;27)

[A ,A ] Sora Rail (Porzana carolina) (0,8;11)

[- ,A ] Magnificent Frigatebird (Fregata magnificens) (0,1*;2) (* - Isle of Man)

[A ,A ] Ascension Frigatebird (Fregata aquila) (1,0;1)

[A ,A ] Green Heron (Butorides virescens) (1,3;3)

[A ,A ] Sandhill Crane (Grus canadensis) (0,2;2)

[- ,B ] Least Bittern (Ixobrychus exilis) (-,-;1)

[A ,A ] Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) (0,1;1)

[A ,A ] American Purple Gallinule (Porphyrula martinica) (0,1;1)

[A ,A ] American Coot (Fulica americana) (0,2;1)

American Ducks/Geese

[A ,A ] American Wigeon (Anas americana) (-,-;c. 300)

[A ,A ] Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris) (-,-;255)

[A ,A ] Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata) (-,-;230)

[A ,A ] Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors) (19,203;188)

[A ,A ] Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis) (0,47;25)

[A ,A ] American Black Duck (Anas rubripes) (1,24;17)

[A ,A ] Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) (2,6;8)

[A ,A ] Black Scoter (Melanitta nigra americana) (0,6;6)

[A ,A ] Canvasback (Aythya valisineria) (0,4;2)

[- ,D ] Ross's Goose (Anser rossii) (-,-;2)

[- ,B ] Hooded Merganser (Mergus cucullatus) (-,-;2)

[A ,A ] Redhead (Aythya americana) (0,2;1)

American Raptors

[- ,A ] Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus) (-,-;2)

[A ,A ] American Kestrel (Falco sparverius) (0,2;2)

[- ,A ] Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) (-,-;1)

American Waders

[A ,A ] Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) (-,-;1500+)

[A ,A ] Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis) (-,-;300+)

[A ,A ] White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis) (7,317;295)

[A ,A ] Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes) (6,184;195)

[A ,A ] Wilson's Phalarope (Phalaropus tricolor) (2,205;195)

[A ,A ] American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominicus) (13,210;194)

[A ,A ] Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus) (0,156;164)

[A ,A ] Baird's Sandpiper (Calidris bairdii) (8,155;149)

[A ,A ] Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) (2,114,114)

[A ,A ] Semi-palmated Sandpiper (Calidris pusilla) (3,63;52)

[A ,A ] Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) (0,35;41)

[A ,A ] Upland Sandpiper (Bartramia longicauda) (0,30;35)

[A ,A ] Least Sandpiper (Calidris minutilla) (0,23;29)

[A ,A ] Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria) (0,21;26)

[A ,A ] Greater Yellowlegs (Tringa melanoleuca) (0,16;24)

[A ,A ] Stilt Sandpiper (Micropalma himantopus) (0,18;19)

[A ,A ] Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri) (0,6;7)

[B ,B ] Eskimo Curlew (Numenius borealis) (7,0;6)

[A ,A ] Semi-palmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) (0,2;2)

[- ,A ] Wilson's Snipe (Gallinago gallinago delicata) (-,-;2)

[A ,A ] Hudsonian Godwit (Limosa haemastica) (0,2;2)

[A ,A ] Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus) (0,1,1)

American Gulls/Terns

[A ,A ] Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) (-,-;c.1000)

[A ,A ] Bonaparte's Gull (Larus philadelphia) (11,96;103)

[A ,A ] Laughing Gull (Larus atricilla) (2,89;80)

[A ,A ] Franklin's Gull (Larus pipixcan) (0,40;33)

[A ,A ] Forster's Tern (Sterna forsteri) (0,16;14)

[A ,A ] Royal Tern (Sterna maxima) (1,5;4)

[- ,A ] Least Tern (Sterna albifrons) (-,-,1)

[- ,IR] Thayer’s Gull (Larus thayeri) (-,-,1)

[- ,IR] Elegant Tern (Sterna elegans) (-,-,1)

American Cuckoos

[A ,A ] Yellow-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus americanus) (22,35;55)

[A ,A ] Black-billed Cuckoo (Coccyzus erythrophthalmus) (4,10;12)

American Nightjar

[A ,A ] Common Nighthawk (Chordeiles minor) (3,15;16)

American Woodpeckers

[A ,A ] Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius) (0,1;1)

[- ,IR] Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) (-,-;1)

American Nuthatch

[A ,A ] Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) (0,1;1)

American Hirundines

[A ,A ] Cliff Swallow (Hirundo pyrrhonota) (0,7;5)

[A ,A ] Chimney Swift (Chaetura pelagica) (0,12;6)

[A ,A ] Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) (0,1;2)

[- ,IR] Purple Martin (Hirundo purpurea) (-,-;1)

American Thrushes and Allies

[A ,A ] Grey-cheeked Thrush (Catharus minimus) (1,39;44)

[A ,A ] Swainson's Thrush (Catharus ustulatus) (1,20;18)

[A ,A ] American Robin (Turdus migratorius) (11,16;18)

[A ,A ] Hermit Thrush (Catharus guttatus) (0,7;7)

[A ,A ] Veery (Catharus fuscescens) (0,5;4)

[A ,A ] Yellow-headed Blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) (-,-;2)

[A ,D ] Varied Thrush (Zoothera naevia) (0,0;1)

[A ,A ] Wood Thrush (Catharus mustelina) (-,-;1)

[A ,A ] Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothros ater) (-,-;1)

[- ,B ] Rusty Blackbird (Euphagus carolinus) (-,-;1)

New-World Warblers/Vireos

[A ,A ] Red-eyed Vireo (Vireo olivaceous) (1,93;91)

[A ,A ] Blackpoll Warbler (Dendroica striata) (0,32;32)

[A ,A ] Northern Parula (Parula americana) (0,14;14)

[A ,A ] Yellow-rumped Warbler (Dendroica coronata) (1,15;14)

[A ,A ] Black-and-white Warbler (Mniotilta varia) (1,12;13)

[A ,A ] Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas) (1,6;7)

[A ,A ] Northern Waterthrush (Seiurus noveboracensis) (0,6;6)

[A ,A ] American Redstart (Setophaga ruticillao) (0,5;5)

[A ,A ] Tennessee Warbler (Vermivora peregrina) (0,4;4)

[A ,A ] Yellow Warbler (Dendroica petechia) (0,3;4)

[A ,A ] Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapillus) (0,2;3)

[A ,A ] Chestnut-sided Warbler (Dendroica pensylvanica) (0,2;2)

[A ,A ] Blackburnian Warbler (Dendroica fusca) (0,2;2)

[A ,A ] Cape May Warbler (Dendroica tigrina) (0,1;1)

[A ,A ] Magnolia Warbler (Dendroica magnolia) (0,1;1)

[A ,A ] Bay-breasted Warbler (Dendroica castanea) (0,1;1)

[A ,A ] Wilson's Warbler (Wilsonia pusilla) (0,1;1)

[A ,A ] Hooded Warbler (Wilsonia citrina) (0,2;1)

[A ,A ] Golden-winged Warbler (Vermivora chrysoptera) (0,1;1)

[- ,IR] Blue-winged Warbler (Vermivora pinus) (-,-;0)

[A ,A ] Yellow-throated Vireo (Vireo flavifrons) (0,1;1)

[A ,A ] Philadelphia Vireo (Vireo philadelphicus) (0,1;1)

American Sparrows/Buntings/Larks/Grosbeaks

[A ,A ] White-throated Sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis) (1,19;21)

[A ,A ] Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis) (1,23;21)

[A ,A ] Bobolink (Dolichonyx oryzivorus) (0,21;20)

[A ,A ] Rose-breasted Grosbeak (Pheuticus ludovicianus) (0,18;17)

[A ,A ] Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) (0,7;8)

[A ,A ] Indigo Bunting (Passerina cyanea) (0,1;6)

[A ,A ] White-crowned Sparrow (Zonotrichia leucophrys) (0,3;3)

[A ,A ] Savannah Sparrow (Passerculus sandwichensis) (0,2;2)

[A ,A ] Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus) (0,2;2)

[A ,A ] Evening Grosbeak (Hesperiphona vespertina) (0,2;2)

[- ,A ] Eastern Phoebe (Sayornis phoebe) (-,-;1)

[A ,A ] Rufous-sided (Eastern) Towhee (Pipiloa erythophthalmus) (0,1;1)

[- ,Z ] Spotted Towhee (Pipilo maculatus) (-,-;1)

[- ,IR] Fox Sparrow (Passerella iliaca) (-,-;1)

American Tanagers

[A ,A ] Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea) (0,4;4)

[A ,A ] Summer Tanager (Piranga rubra) (1,0;1)

Other American Landbirds

[A ,A ] Baltimore Oriole (Icterus galbula) (0,20;20)

[A ,A ] Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens) (0,2;4)

[A ,A ] Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) (-,-;3)

[A ,A ] Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedorum) (0,2;2)

[A ,A ] Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon) (1,1;2)

[A ,A ] Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum) (0,1;1)

[A ,A ] Grey Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis) (0,1;1)

[A ,A ] Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) (0,2;1)


Siberian Waders

[A ,A ] Pacific Golden Plover (Pluvialis fulva) (3,44;41)

[A ,A ] Sharp-tailed Sandpiper (Calidris acuminata) (5,19;24)

[A ,A ] Greater Sandplover (Charadrius leschenaultii) (0,13;12)

[A ,A ] Red-necked Stint (Calidris ruficollis) (0,5;4)

[A ,A ] Long-toed Stint (Calidris subminuta) (0,2;3)

[A ,A ] Grey-tailed Tattler (Heteroscelus brevipes) (0,2;2)

[A ,A ] Little Curlew (Numenius minutus) (0,2;2)

[A ,A ] Great Knot (Calidris tenuirostris) (0,2;2)

[A ,A ] Lesser Sandplover (Charadrius mongolicus) (0,1;1)

[A ,A ] Slender-billed Curlew (Numenius tenuirostris) (0,1;1)

Siberian Dove

[A ,A ] Rufous Turtle Dove ( Streptopelia orientalis) (2,3;5)

Siberian Pipits

[A, A ] Richard's Pipit (Anthus novaeseelandiae) (-,-,1500+)

[A ,A ] Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni) (1,222;214)

[A ,A ] Pechora Pipit (Anthus gustavi) (13,53;72)

[A ,A ] Blyth's Pipit (Anthus godlewskii) (1,9;12)

Siberian Wagtails

[A ,A ] Citrine Wagtail (Motacilla citreola) (2,129,119)

[A ,A ] Black-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava feldegg) (0,9;28)

Siberian Shrikes

[A ,A ] Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor) (32,126;157)

[A ,A ] Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus) (-,-;51)

[A ,A ] Southern Grey Shrike (Lanius pallidirostris) (1,15;14)

[A ,A ] Brown Shrike (Lanius cristatus) (-,-,3)

[- ,A ] Long-tailed Shrike (Lanius schach) (-,-,1)

Siberian Warblers

[A ,A ] Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus) (-,-;3000+)

[A ,A ] Pallas's Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus proregulus) (-,-;500+)

[A ,A ] Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus) (1,218;208)

[A ,A ] Radde's Warbler (Phylloscopus schwarzi) (1,221;176)

[A ,A ] Lanceolated Warbler (Locustella lanceolata) (9,80;80)

[A ,A ] Booted Warbler (Hippolais caligata) (1,86;76)

[A ,A ] Hume's Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus humei) (0,44;42)

[A ,A ] Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella certhiola) (3,21;25)

[A ,A ] Thick-billed Warbler (Acrophalus aedon) (1,1;2)

[- ,A ] Syke's Warbler (Hippolais caligata rama) (0,1;2)

[- ,A ] Two-barred Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus plumbeitarsus) (-,-;2)

Siberian Flycatchers

[- ,A ] Asian Brown Flycatcher (Muscicapa dauurica) (0,0;2)

[- ,D ] Mugimaki Flycatcher (Ficedula mugimaki) (-,-;1)

Siberian Chats

[A ,A ] Red-flanked Bluetail (Tarsiger cyanurus) (3,22;19)

[A, A ] Siberian Rubythroat (Luscinia calliope) (0,2;2)

[A, A ] Siberian Blue Robin (Luscinia cyane) (0,1;-)

Siberian Thrushes

[-, A ] Black-throated Thrush (Turdus ruficollis atrogularis) (0,23;47)

[A, A ] Dark-throated Thrush (Turdus ruficollis) (3,43;-)

[A, A ] White's Thrush (Zoothera dauma) (30,22;47)

[A, A ] Eye-browed Thrush (Turdus obscurus) (0,17;19)

[A, A ] Dusky Thrush (Turdus naumanni eunomus) (0,2;8)

[A, A ] Siberian Thrush (Zoothera sibiria) (1,5;5)

[A, A ] Naumann's Thrush (Turdus naumanni naumanni) (0,2;2)

[-, A ] Red-throated Thrush (Turdus ruficollis ruficollis) (0,1;1)

Siberian Buntings

[- ,D ] Red-headed Bunting (Emberiza bruniceps) (-,-,337)

[A ,A ] Pine Bunting (Emberiza leucocephalos) (2,33;40)

[- ,D ] Chestnut Bunting (Emberiza rutila) (-,-;6)

[A ,A ] Yellow-browed Bunting (Emberiza chrysophrys) (0,5;5)

[A ,A ] Pallas's Reed Bunting (Emberiza pallasi) (0,3;4)

[A ,D ] Black-faced Bunting (Emberiza spodocephala) (0,2;1)

Siberian Starling (2 records)

[- ,D ] Daurian Starling () (-,-,2)


Eurasian/African Herons/Bitterns/Egrets

[A ,A ] Squacco Heron (Ardeola ralloides) (95,47;116)

[A ,A ] Great White Egret (Egretta alba) (10,141;96)

[A ,A ] Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis) (2,111;82)

[- ,D ] Yellow Bittern (Ixobrychus sinensis) (-,-;)

Eurasian/African Ibis

[A ,A ] Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus) (many,71;377)

Eurasian/African Stork/Flamingo

[A, A ] Black Stork (Ciconia nigra) (26,117;144)

[- ,D ] Greater Flamingo (Phoenicopterus ruber) (-,-,9)

Eurasian/African Geese

[A ,A ] Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus) (47,88;114)

[A ,A ] Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis) (15,53;51)

Eurasian/African Ducks

[- ,D ] Ruddy Shelduck (Tadorna ferrugina) (-,-;148)

[- ,D ] Marbled Duck (Marmaronetta angustiroistris) (-,-;4)

European/African Raptors

[A ,A ] White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla) (many,24;23)

[A ,A ] Lesser Kestrel (Falco naumanni) (11,6;23)

[B ,A ] Greater Spotted Eagle (Aquila clanga) (14,0;9)

[A ,A ] Pallid Harrier (Circus macrourus) (3,7;9)

[A ,A ] Egyptian Vulture (Neophron percnopterus) (2,0;3)

[A ,A ] Eleonora's Falcon (Falco eleonorae) (0,4;3)

[A ,A ] Griffon Vulture (Gyps fulvus) (3,0;2)

[- ,A ] Black Vulture () (-,-;1)

[A ,A ] Short-toed Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) (0,1;1)

[- ,A ] Booted Eagle (Hieraaetus pennatus) (-,-;1)

Eurasian/African Bustards

[A ,A ] Little Bustard (Tetrax tetrax) (92,18;188)

[A ,A ] Great Bustard (Otis tarda) (many,20;30)

[B ,A ] Macqueen's Bustard (Chlamydotis macqueenii) (4,1;5)

Eurasian/African Crakes/Rails

[A ,A ] Little Crake (Porzana parva) (68,31;99)

[A ,A ] Baillon's Crake (Porzana pusilla) (many,13;74)

[B ,A ] Allen's Gallinule (Porphyrula alleni) (1,1,1)

Eurasian/African Waders

[A ,A ] Black-winged Stilt (Himatopus himantopus) (98,193;325)

[A ,A ] Great Snipe (Galinago media) (180,110;114)

[A ,A ] Marsh Sandpiper (Tringa stagnatilis) (12,101;99)

[A ,A ] Collared Pratincole (Glareola pratincola) (31,53;89)

[A ,A ] Terek Sandpiper (Xenus cinereus) (3,54;49)

[A ,A ] Sociable Lapwing (Vanellus gregaria) (5,35,38)

[A ,A ] Cream-coloured Courser (Cursorius cursor) (27,6;37)

[A ,A ] Black-winged Pratincole (Glareola nordmanni) (5,28;30)

[A ,A ] Greater Sandplover (Charadrius leschenaultii) (0,13;12)

[A ,A ] Caspian Plover (Charadrius asiaticus) (2,3;5)

[A ,A ] White-tailed Plover (Vanellus leucurus) (0,4;3)

[A ,A ] Lesser Sandplover (Charadrius mongolicus) (0,1;1)

Eurasian/African Gulls/Terns

[A ,A ] Gull-billed Tern (Gelochelidon nilotica) (52,214;282)

[A ,A ] Caspian Tern (Sterna caspia) (30,230;219)

[A ,A ] Whiskered Tern (Chlidonias hybridus) (20,96;111)

[A ,A ] Sooty Tern (Sterna fusca) (16,10;24)

[A ,A ] Bridled Tern (Sterna anaethetus) (3,18;22)

[A ,A ] Lesser Crested Tern (Sterna bengalensis) (0,8;12)

[A ,A ] Slender-billed Gull (Larus genei) (0,9;5)

[B ,B ] Great Black-headed Gull (Larus ichthyaetus) (5,0;1)

Eurasian Sandgrouse

[A ,A ] Pallas's Sandgrouse (Syrrhaptes paradoxus) (many,7;7)

Eurasian/African Cuckoo

[A ,A ] Great Spotted Cuckoo (Clamator glandarius) (6,34;38)

European Owls

[A ,A ] Snowy Owl (Nyctea scandiaca) (many,154;154)

[A ,A ] Scops Owl (Otus scops) (65,25;76)

[A ,A ] Tengmalm's Owl (Aegolius funereus) (49,7;47)

[A ,A ] Hawk Owl (Surnia ulula) (8,2;11)

European/African Nightjars

[A ,A ] Egyptian Nightjar (Caprimulgus aegyptius) (1,1;2)

[B ,B ] Red-necked Nightjar (Caprimulgus ruficollis) (1,0;1)

Eurasian/African Swifts

[A ,A ] Alpine Swift (Apus melba) (50,401;412)

[A ,A ] Little Swift (Apus affinis) (0,16;15)

[A ,A ] Pallid Swift (Apus pallidus) (0,25;12)

Eurasian/African Bee-eater

[A ,A ] Blue-cheeked Bee-eater (Merops superciliosus) (2,6;8)

European Woodpecker

[- ,A ] Middle-spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos medius) (-,-;1)

European hirundine

[A ,A ] Crag Martin (Pytonoprogne rupestris) (0,6;4)

European/African Larks

[A ,A ] Crested Lark (Galerida cristata) (13,7;19)

[A ,A ] Calandra Lark (Melanocorypha calandra) (0,10;7)

[A ,A ] Bimaculated Lark (Melanocorypha bimaculata) (0,3;3)

[A ,A ] White-winged Lark (Melanocorypha leucoptera) (6,1;2)

[A ,A ] Lesser Short-toed Lark (Calandrella rufescens) (37,1;2)

European Accentor

[A ,A ] Alpine Accentor (Prunella collaris) (29,13;35)

European/African Warblers

[A ,A ] Aquatic Warbler (Acrocephalus paludicola) (-,-,1000+)

[A ,A ] Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans) (12,443;409+)

[A ,A ] Greenish Warbler (Phylloscopus trochiloides) (12,333;333)

[A ,A ] Arctic Warbler (Phylloscopus borealis) (19,223;230)

[A ,A ] Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus) (23,185;195)

[A ,A ] Western Bonelli's Warbler (Phylloscopus bonelli) (3,55;132)

[A ,A ] Sardinian Warbler (Sylvia melanocephala) (1,55;54)

[A ,A ] Paddyfield Warbler (Acrocephalus agricola) (2,43;45)

[A ,A ] Blyth's Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum) (9,34;37)

[A ,A ] River Warbler (Locustella fluviatilis) (0,29;30)

[A ,A ] Caspian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus fuscus) (-,-;12)

[A ,A ] Desert Warbler (Sylvia nana) (0,11;11)

[A ,A ] Olivaceous Warbler (Hippolais pallida) (0,11,9)

[A ,A ] Moustached Warbler (Acrocephalus melanopogon) (8,1;7)

[A ,A ] Orphean Warbler (Sylvia hortensis) (2,4;6)

[A ,A ] Ruppell's Warbler (Sylvia ruppelli) (0,5;5)

[A ,A ] Eastern Bonelli's Warbler (Phylloscopus orientalis) (0,3;5)

[A ,A ] Zitting Cisticola (Cisticola juncidis) (0,3,2)

[A ,A ] Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus iberiae) (0,6;2)

[A ,A ] Marmora's Warbler (Sylvia sarda) (0,3;3)

[A ,A ] Spectacled Warbler (Sylvia conspicillata) (0,4;2)

[- ,A ] Green Warbler (Phylloscopus nitidus) (-,-,1)

European/African Wheatears

[A ,A ] Desert Wheatear (Oenanthe deserti) (11,65;72)

[A ,A ] Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanathe hispanica) (15,43;59)

[A ,A ] Pied Wheatear (Oenanthe pleschanka) (3,40;39)

[A ,A ] Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina) (1,16;16)

[A ,A ] White-crowned Black Wheatear (Oenanthe leucopyga) (0,1;1)

European Thrushes/Chats

[A ,A ] Thrush Nightingale (Luscinia luscinia) (2,136;135)

[A ,A ] Rock Thrush (Monticola saxatilis) (6,20;26)

[A ,A ] Rufous Scrub-robin (Cercotrichas galactotes) (6,4;8)

[A ,A ] Blue Rock Thrush (Monticola solitarius) (0,5;3)

European Flycatcher

[A ,A ] Collared Flycatcher (Ficedula albicollis) (2,21;23)

European Treecreeper

[A ,A ] Short-toed Treecreeper (Certhia brachydactyla) (0,20;21)

European Wallcreeper

[A ,A ] Wallcreeper (Tichodroma muraria) (6,4;11)

Eurasian Tit

[A ,A ] Penduline Tit (Remiz pendulinus) (0,150;148)

European/African Buntings/Finches

[A ,A ] Rustic Bunting (Emberiza rustica) (34,396;412)

[A ,A ] Yellow-breasted Bunting (Emberiza aureola) (10,199;188)

[A ,D ] Black-headed Bunting (Emberiza melanocephala) (9,151;136)

[A ,A ] Trumpeter Finch (Bucanetes githagineus) (0,7;8)

[A ,A ] Rock Bunting (Emberiza cia) (3,3;6)

[A ,A ] Cretzschmar's Bunting (Emberiza caesia) (0,3;3)

European/African Sparrows

[A ,A ] Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis) (0,7;6)

[A ,A ] Rock Sparrow (Petronia petronia) (0,1;1)


[A ,A ] White-billed Diver (Gavia adamsii) (18,203;203)

[A ,A ] Two-barred Crossbill (Loxia leucoptera) (40,84;138)

[A ,A ] Ross's Gull (Rhodostethia rosea) (2,72;79)

[A ,A ] King Eider (Somateria spectabilis) (62,102;77)

[A ,A ] Ivory Gull (Pagophia eburnea) (76,39;39)

[A ,A ] Brunnich's Guillemot (Uria lomvia) (2,33;32)

[A ,A ] Harlequin Duck (Histrionicus histrionicus) (7,8;15)

[A ,A ] Steller's Eider (Polysticta stelleri) (5,10;13)

[A ,A ] Barrow's Goldeneye (Bucephala islandica) (0,1;1)


[A ,A ] Wilson's Petrel (Oceanodroma oceanicus) (4,299;247)

[A ,A ] Little Shearwater (Puffinus assimilis) (5,56;35)

[A ,A ] Bridled Tern (Sterna anaethetus) (3,18;22)

[A ,A ] Sooty Tern (Sterna fusca) (16,10;24)

[A ,A ] Black-browed Albatross (Diomedea melanophris) (2,15;12)

[A ,A ] Soft-plumaged Petrel sp (Pterodroma feae) (0,21;16)

[A ,A ] Bulwer's Petrel (Bulweria bulwerii) (2,1;4)

[A ,A ] Capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) (1,1;2)

[B ,B ] White-faced Petrel (Pelagodroma marina) (1,0;1)

[B ,A ] Madeiran Petrel (Oceanodroma castro) (2,0;1)

BRITISH LIST CATEGORIES (UK 400 CLUB version includes Ireland)

Category A = Species which have been recorded in an apparently wild state in Britain since 1900.

Category B = Species which have been recorded in an apparently wild state in Britain, but not since the nineteenth century.

Category C = Species which, although originally introduced by man, have now established a regular feral breeding stock which apparently maintains itself without necessary recourse to further reintroduction.

Category D = Species which have occurred in an apparently wild state in Britain but for which the possibility of escape cannot be fully excluded.

Category Z = Species which have occurred in Britain which have either been ship-assisted or are suspected of having some form of assisted passage. Species which have been artificially transported or kept alive at sea are excluded (e.g., Snowy Sheathbill).

Category IR = Species recorded in Ireland only.

The main sources used for the above information are the books Alstrom, P., Colston, P. & Lewington, I. (1991) "Rare Birds of Britain and Europe" and Palmer, P. (2000) "First for Britain and Ireland: 1600-1999", Arlequin Press together with reports in other birding literature and on the web. Species totals listed derive from BBRC published totals, including those for 2001, and from UK 400 Club rules but note that the latter site is now subscription only).

There are undoubtedly errors and omissions in this account, for which responsibility is entirely mine. There may also be other interesting records which I am unaware of, or particular records which merit attention due to some other reason. If you have any comments please send me a mail! (or email:

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