RAR­ITY PRE­DIC­TOR

Bird Watching (UK) - - Your Birding Month -

This is the place where we have a semi-ed­u­cated stab in the dark about which ‘mega’ rar­ity may turn up dur­ing the month, this time in May. Re­mem­ber, these are not reg­u­lar or ex­pected rare birds, but at the ‘mega’ end of the rar­ity spec­trum. There will be guar­an­teed glory for any­one find­ing one of these three spe­cial birds this year. There have only ever been six ac­cepted records of White-tailed Lap­wing in the UK. The last was in 2010 (pic­tured right), with a bird first found on 27 May at Seaforth NR, Lan­cashire, be­fore mov­ing to Es­sex, Glouces­ter­shire and Kent be­fore its de­par­ture on 21 July. Luck­ily, it is not a hard bird to iden­tify, with a strik­ing wing pat­tern, plus very long yel­low-legs and, of course, a white tail. Another ex­tremely rare bird, the tiny Trum­peter Finch has reached the UK on only 16 oc­ca­sions, with lit­tle in­fluxes in 2005 and 2008 ac­count­ing for nearly half of these. Most records have been from coastal sites, es­pe­cially (but not ex­clu­sively) in the south-east of Eng­land. Just 24 records of Lit­tle Swifts have been ac­cepted in the UK, so it is another ex­tremely rare bird. How­ever, nearly half of these were found dur­ing May, and nearly all the rest in June, so now is the time to be scour­ing the skies look­ing for half-pint­sized swifts with square tails and ex­ten­sive white rumps. Lit­tle Swifts are widely dis­trib­uted birds, with a res­i­dent pop­u­la­tion in sub-sa­ha­ran Africa and the In­dian sub­con­ti­nent and scat­tered breed­ing pop­u­la­tions breed­ing in North Africa, south­ern Spain and the Mid­dle East.

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