Rarity of the Year 2013 - the results!


There can only be one winner, and what a deserving winner it is: BirdGuides readers have voted the White-throated Needletail, present on the Isle of Harris on 24th-26th June, as 2013's rarity of the year. Given the aura that surrounds this species (no shortage of birders who've seen needletails routinely describe them as the best birds they've ever seen) and its mega-rarity status in Britain, it's not hard to see why — and that's before you consider the astonishing events of 26th, which ended tragically when this wayward wanderer flew into a wind turbine and was killed. To relive the day in full, look back to Josh Jones and Alan Tilmouth's account of the day's unique events.

White-throated Needletail
The Harris White-throated Needletail: BirdGuides readers' bird of 2013! (Photo: Josh Jones)

However, this was by no means a landslide victory —  in total, more than 600 votes were cast, with two clear frontrunners leading our shortlist. As it turned out the needletail edged it, with 118 votes (18.8%), but Islay's momentous Ascension Frigatebird during 5th July ran it close, boasting 112 (17.9%). You have to wonder how different that top two might have looked had the frigatebird hung around for a little longer and actually allowed birders to see it!

Ascension Frigatebird
Islay's Ascension Frigatebird in early July came a close second (Photo: Jim Sim)

There was quite a gap between second and third, with the bronze medal going to Dorset's Boxing Day Brünnich's Guillemot. Being the first ever of its kind to be widely twitchable (and the most southerly British & Irish record of the species), as well as its characterful and confiding nature, it was no great surprise to see it do so well in our poll.

Brünnich's Guillemot
December's most popular bird, the Portland Brünnich's Guillemot, was a clear third (Photo: John Dickenson)

The rest of the results are listed in full below. It really does hit home what a fabulous year 2013 was for vagrants when you see Inishbofin's Eastern Kingbird lying at the foot of the table, with just a single vote to its name (though this no doubt would have been several places higher had it lingered a second day!). Presumably the same caveats apply to Cork's Wilson's Warbler (6 votes; 1%) and Britain's first Stejneger's Scoter (12 votes; 1.9%), the latter of course entirely untwitchable.

Thanks to all those who took the time to vote — 2014 has a lot to live up to, but with Yellow-rumped Warbler, Slaty-backed Gull, American Purple Gallinule, Red-flanked Bluetail, Pacific Diver and American Coot having all been found in the opening six weeks of the year, it's been an impressive start!

Rarity of the Year 2013
White-throated Needletail, Harris (118 votes)
Ascension Frigatebird, Islay (112 votes)
Brünnich's Guillemot, Portland (80 votes)
Cape May Warbler, Unst (30 votes)
Bridled Tern (28 votes)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Cork (26 votes)
Red-billed Tropicbird, Cornwall (23 votes)
Ivory Gulls at Seahouses and in East Yorkshire (23 votes)
Dusky Thrush, Kent (21 votes)
Great Snipe, Kilnsea (21 votes)
Pacific Swift, Suffolk (17 votes)
Two-barred Crossbill influx (12 votes)
Stejneger's Scoter 'photobomb' (12 votes)
Pine Grosbeak, Shetland (11 votes)
Siberian Rubythroat, Fair Isle (10 votes)
Swinhoe's Storm-petrels on Fair Isle (8 votes)
Parrot Crossbill influx (8 votes)
Hermit Thrush, Porthgwarra (8 votes)
Western Orphean Warbler, Pembrokeshire (8 votes)
Baikal Teals (8 votes)
Harlequin, North Uist (7 votes)
Wilson's Warbler, County Cork (6 votes)
Semipalmated Plover, Hampshire (6 votes)
Brown Shrike influx (5 votes)
Thick-billed Warbler, Shetland (5 votes)
White-billed Diver, Devon (5 votes)
Mourning Dove, Rum (4 votes)
Lesser Sand Plover relocating from Moray/Nairn to Cork (2 votes)
Bulwer's Petrel, County Cork (1 vote)
Eastern Kingbird, Galway (1 vote)
Total votes cast:626
Written by: BirdGuides