Follow by Email

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

AMERICAN PURPLE GALLINULE found dead in South Devon

A woman phoned the RSPB yesterday morning to inform them of a very odd dead Moorhen that was hanging in a Cotoneaster bush in her garden on the edge of Dartmoor in South Devon. A local birder (Julia Harris) popped around to the house and photographed the bird and found to her amazement that the bird was a dead first-winter AMERICAN PURPLE GALLINULE - ouch!

There is only one previous British record of this Nearctic species in Britain relating to a first-winter picked up in an emaciated condition in the High Street in Hugh Town, on St Mary's, on the Isles of Scilly, on 7th November 1958. It survived in care for two days but died on 9th, the corpse being sent to the British Museum and now retained at Tring. Its appearance on Scilly followed a particularly violent storm in the Gulf of Mexico which later tracked over the Atlantic.

There is a much more recent second record of which I have my doubts over its provenance - another sub-adult that was apparently found dead in Southill Park in Bedfordshire in April or May 2008 (A. Jeeves, per Barry Nightingale and Barry Squires) (published in British Birds 102: 550).

There are 14 other previous records from the Western Palearctic: Azores (6), Canary Islands (1), Cape Verde Islands (1), Iceland (2), Madeira (1), Norway (1), Switzerlamnd (1) and one at sea taken to the Faeroe Islands.