Bird Watching (UK) - - Your Birding Month -

Ev­ery month, we take a stab in the dark to pre­dict very rare birds which may sur­prise us all by ap­pear­ing. And if we suc­ceed, we like to brag about it!


There have been 64 ac­cepted records of this North Amer­i­can cuckoo, widely spread across the coun­try, though with a nat­u­ral bias to­ward the South West and es­pe­cially Scilly. Nearly all oc­cur in the sec­ond to fourth week of Oc­to­ber. Most birds do not stay long, and they are of­ten found mori­bund or very weak. They are sim­i­lar to Black-billed Cuck­oos, both be­ing brown above and white be­neath, with bright chestnut wing pan­els and very long spot­ted tails. Yel­low­billed Cuck­oos have yel­low-based bills, a white throat and larger white tips to the tail feath­ers than its cousin.


There have been just seven records of Scar­let Tan­ager, most re­cently on Barra, Outer He­brides in Oc­to­ber 2014. All the oth­ers have been from Corn­wall or Scilly and they are nearly all first-win­ters, which are greeny yel­low birds, look­ing like large green finches or even thick-billed Golden Ori­oles, rather than the red-and-black males.


There have only been three ac­cepted oc­cur­rences of this small North Amer­i­can waxwing in the UK, although one in­di­vid­ual was a very, long-stayer, from 20 Fe­bru­ary to 18 March 1996, in Not­ting­ham. Last record was in late Septem­ber 2013 on Tiree, Ar­gyll. Will the next one be this Oc­to­ber? They can be iden­ti­fied by their smaller size and lack of yel­low tips in pri­maries, yel­low belly and dull grey (not chestnut) un­der­tail coverts.

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