As regular CFZ-watchers will know, for some time Corinna has been doing a column for Animals & Men and a regular segment on On The Track... particularly about out-of-place birds and rare vagrants. There seem to be more and more bird stories from all over the world hitting the news these days so, to make room for them all - and to give them all equal and worthy coverage - she has set up this new blog to cover all things feathery and Fortean.

Wednesday, 6 April 2016

Bird last recorded in 19th century observed over Malta

Saturday, April 2, 2016, 11:07

With spring bird migration starting in March, a number of scarce species were observed stopping over Malta, including a species last recorded in the 19th century, Birdlife Malta said today.

The strong southern winds are likely to have brought these vagrants – birds which disperse from their usual range through accidental migratory movements.

The first surprise for bird watchers was a cream-coloured courser (Nankina), a very scarce irregular semi-desert bird, last seen in 2009. The courser spent two weeks within the safety of the airport area, a suitable bare, flat habitat for its ground-running behaviour. The species breeds in the North African and Middle Eastern regions, rarely venturing into Europe.

A southern great grey shrike (Kaċċamendula Prima) was the second rare bird spotted at Ta’ Ċenċ cliffs. Southern Grey Shrike is a vagrant species in the Maltese islands.

Another rarity this spring is a Richard’s Pipit (Bilblun Prim), which stopped over along the Southern coast of Malta. This species is rarely seen in Malta, as it originates from Siberia, Mongolia and parts of China. Past records for this bird had always been during autumn, but never in spring.

The most unexpected vagrant however was a White-crowned Black Wheatear (Kuda Rasha Bajda) which stayed over at Majjistral Park. This was only the second record ever for Malta, as the species was locally last confirmed in 1872 as a shot specimen. There are only a handful of records of this species in Europe. It is normally found in in the Sahara desert and Arabia.
The peak of spring migration in Malta is expected in April, although many birds are already passing through

A Seebohm’s Wheatear, a subspecies of the more common Northern Wheatear (Kuda) was the last rarity to be recorded this month. This is the first time it has been observed in Malta.

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