New to Britain: White-rumped Swift

The British Ornithologists’ Union Records Committee (BOURC) has added the following species to the British List:

White-rumped Swift Apus caffer
First-calendar-year, Hornsea Mere, Yorkshire, 14 October 2018 (photographed).

White-rumped Swift, Hornsea, Yorkshire, (© James Lowen)

The series of excellent photographs helped confirm the identification of this bird, and excluded closely-related and similar looking congeners. There are no issues with provenance, as the species is not kept in captivity. Indeed, the species had long been a predicted vagrant to Britain, with a small migratory population in south-west Europe, where it is a summer breeding visitor from sub-Saharan Africa. In autumn 2018, numerous extra-limital swifts of the genus Apus with similar European distributions appeared in Britain, including relatively large numbers of Pallid Swifts A. pallidus and a single Little Swift A. affinis. So the appearance of this individual was likely associated with the same weather patterns. Thus the species was accepted to Category A.

White-rumped Swift, Hornsea, Yorkshire, (© James Lowen)
White-rumped Swift, Hornsea, Yorkshire, (© James Lowen)

White-rumped Swift is monotypic, and breeds throughout sub-Saharan Africa and Morocco with small numbers migrating to breed during the summer in Spain and Portugal.

It should be placed after Little Swift Apus affinis on the British List.

Further details will be published as part of the BOURC’s 50th report due to be published in Ibis in January 2020.

Upon publication of this change, the British List stands at 620 species (Category A = 602; Category B = 8; Category C = 10).


1 August 2019

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