Tuesday, 6 November 2012

BOU Taxonomic Update to the British List - October 2012

The latest issue of Ibis published by the British Ornithologists Union (BOU) (http://www.bou.org.uk) in October 2012 contains a number of taxonomic updates to birds on the British list. These include a number of family reshuffles but of most interest are the following (some long-anticipated) species splits:

Cory's Shearwater Calonectris diomedea to be treated as three species:
  • Cory's shearwater C. borealis
  • Scopoli's shearwater C.diomeadea
  • Cape Verde shearwater C.edwardsii

Of these both Cory's and Scopoli's shearwater are on the British list, the latter on the basis of a single bird seen from a pelagic off the Isles of Scilly on 2nd August 2004, read an account of the find here: (http://www.scillypelagics.com/scopolis.html).

Madeiran Storm-petrel Oceanodroma castro is to be treated as three species in the Western Palearctic:
  • Cape Verde storm-petrel O.jabejabe
  • Madeiran storm-petrel C.castro
  • Monteiro's storm-petrel O.monteiroi

The status of these species in the UK is to be assessed but based on the current knowledge of the distinguishing features of these species it would appear unlikely that definite confirmation of identification of any of the records will be confirmed. There is one record of Madeiran storm-petrel senso lato in the UK since 1950:

With a second record from County Mayo of a bird found dead on 18th October 1931 and now in the collection of the National Museum, Dublin.

Madeiran storm-petrel, Madeira - S.Colenutt, The Deskbund Birder
Madeiran Storm-petrel - Off Madeira, May 2011 (S.Colenutt)

Cream-coloured Courser Cursorius courser is to be split into two species:
  • Cream-coloured courser C.courser
  • Somali courser C.somalensis

Since 1950 there have been seven accepted records of cream-coloured courser senso lato the UK by the end of 2010.

Cream-coloured courser, Socotra - S.Colenutt, The Deskbound Birder
                                 Cream-coloured Courser - Socotra, January 2007 (S.Colenutt)

Arctic Warbler Phylloscopus borealis is to be split into three species:
  • Arctic warbler P.borealis
  • Kamchatka leaf warbler P.examinandus
  • Japanese leaf warbler P.xanthodryas

Since 1950 there have been 300 accepted records of Arctic warbler senso lato in the UK by the end of 2010.

Marmora's Warbler Sylvia sarda is to be split into two species:
  • Balearic warbler S.balearica
  • Marmora's warbler S.sarda

There are six records of Marmora's warbler senso lato in the UK from 1950 until the end of 2010.

Eurasian Nuthatch Sitta arctica is to be split into two species:
  • Siberian nuthatch S.arctica
  • Eurasian nuthatch S.europea

Eurasian nuthatch is, of course, a common breeder throughout mush of the UK but is absent from Ireland.

Siberian Nuthatch - Inner Mongolia, Wuerqihan Forest 
(Max Berlijn) 

The full BOU article detailing these taxonomic changes can be viewed here: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1474-919X.2012.01273.x/full