Thursday, 27 November 2008

American Purple Gallinule

An American Purple Gallinule (Porphyrio martinica) was picked up dead during spring this year by one of the keepers of the Southill Estate. The bird has only come to light because of a chance encounter with Barry Nightingale, who regularly does WeBS and other surveys on the private estate.

Whether this bird arrived naturally, or escaped from a collection is unknown. How this individual arrived in Bedfordshire I suspect we'll never know. Currently the bird in a deep freeze waiting more analysis.

There is only one accepted British record, of an immature picked up exhausted on St Mary's, Isles of Scilly, 7th November 1958 (British Birds 53: 145-146, plate I; G. A. Pyman and the Rarities Committee, British Birds 53: 164; K. Williamson & I. J. Ferguson-Lees, British Birds 53: 371; Flood, Hudson & Thomas, 2007: plate 42). Obviously the most likely answer is of an escaped bird from a collection, but this type of information, for this species, is difficult to come by. If anyone has any information for American Purple Gallinule being in ANY collections in the UK (or even in Europe) I'd be most interested.

The record has already been submitted to BBRC for their further investigation.

What a year Bedfordshire is currently having!

Beds county recorder

Photos by BN, BS and GD

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