Taiga Flycatcher admitted to Category A of the British List

Taiga Flycatcher, Flamborough Head (Pete Wragg) Taiga Flycatcher, Flamborough Head (Steve Blain)

The British Ornithologists' Union Records Committee (BOURC) has admitted Taiga Flycatcher (Ficedula albicilla) to Category A of the British List following the occurrence of a 1st-summer male at Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire on 26-29 April 2003 (sight record, trapped, photographed).

Taiga Flycatcher breeds across the high north Palearctic region east of c. 50°E (east European Russia) from the Ural Mountains eastwards to eastern Siberia. Its breeding range overlaps that of Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva) between 50°E and 60°E. Taiga Flycatcher winters in south-east Asia (southern Nepal, eastern India, Bangladesh, Bhutan, south-east China).

There have been only two previously accepted extralimital Western Palearctic records – a first-winter trapped on 26 October 1998 on Öland, Sweden and another first-winter trapped on 16 September 2002 at Klydesøreservatet, Amager, Denmark (Birding World 16: 153-155).

Taiga Flycatcher is treated as monotypic having recently been split from Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ibis 146: 153-157).

Eric Meek, Chairman of BOURC commented "With the two previous Western Palearctic records having been of young birds in autumn, the expectation was that the first for Britain would follow suit. That it turned out to be a spring male was a real bonus for all who saw this immaculate bird. Siberian vagrants are appearing in spring with increasing regularity and fears have been expressed in the past that this may be resulting from increasing numbers of escapes from captivity. However, our advice was that this is most unlikely to be the case with Taiga Flycatcher. It was interesting, however, that despite initial appearances, the bird could be aged as a first-summer based on the pale edgings to the greater coverts and tertials and it is tempting to speculate that this was a bird that was displaced westwards in the previous autumn and survived the winter on this side of the Eurasian landmass. Whatever its exact route to Flamborough, BOURC members were unanimous in their belief that this was a genuine vagrant and that it should be admitted to category A of the British List."

The British List now stands at 569 species: (Category A = 547; Category B = 12; Category C = 10).


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