Steve Rogers shares his account of the County’s first ever Amur Falcon.
On Thursday evening on the 6th July, west Cornwall birder Mark Wallace found the rarest bird of his career so far. A regular walk after tea down Bosistow Lane chanced upon the county’s first ever Amur Falcon, a small falcon displaces thousands of miles from where it should be. After some discussion and checking of photos, the bird was identified as a first summer female (i.e. a young bird no more than a year old, aged by the heavy wear to the flight feathers and scapulars). The news was duly relayed and a few locals connected that evening. At first light on Friday (05.38hrs) some 200 of the UK’s keenest assembled for a sighting. They were not disappointed as it was found roosting in a bush by the side of the road near the disused quarry. It remained at the roost site until 0920hrs when it flew off towards Nanjizal. It was briefly seen in flight at 1103hrs and that was the last sighting.
The record is the first for Cornwall and only the second official for Britain, following a male in Yorkshire at Tophill Low from September 14th to October 15th 2008. This bird was misidentified as a Red-footed Falcon throughout it’s stay and was only identified retrospectively in photos.
The species breeds in south-eastern Siberia and Northern China before migrating in large flocks across India and over the Arabian Sea to winter in Southern Africa. The route that they take back from Africa back to their breeding grounds is as yet unclear. It was earlier treated as a sub-species of the Red-footed Falcon (Falco vespertinus) and was known as the Eastern Red-footed Falcon.