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.