Rare breeding birds report for 2020 reveals surprises


A pair of Wryneck in Wales, a territorial Whimbrel in Warwickshire and bumper numbers of Marsh Warblers and Savi's Warbler are some of the more notable records published in the latest report from the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP).

'Rare breeding birds in the UK in 2020', written by Mark Eaton and the RBBP, was published in the November 2022 edition of British Birds but has recently been made open access. The report documents the status of the 101 species and subspecies of rare or scarce native birds that bred, or showed signs of breeding, in Britain in 2020 – the highest number of reported on in a single year by the RBBP.

A Savi's Warbler at Thorpe, Norfolk, in June 2020 (Nick Watmough).

Among the good-news stories were the record totals of breeding Common Crane and White-tailed Eagle, as well as good numbers of Eurasian Bittern and European Honey Buzzard. Marsh Warbler also enjoyed an excellent year with some 32 pairs recorded, including a single site in Sussex hosting nine singing males. It was also the best year for Savi's Warbler since 1992.

On a more sombre note, it was confirmed that Montagu's Harrier did not breed in Britain for the first time since 1975. Golden Oriole was also not recorded.

Other notable records included a pair of Wryneck prospecting a nest site in Ceredigion, Wales, for 20 days (the first Welsh breeding record since 1906) and a Whimbrel that held territory in Warwickshire (the first such record of attempted breeding known from England).

The full report can be read here.