BBRC Dumps Black Brant

Published on 07 June 2005

At its 2005 AGM the British Birds Rarities Committee agreed to withdraw Black Brant Branta bernicla nigricans from the list of rare species and races that it considers from 1st July 2005.

BBRC believes that whilst Black Brant is still undoubtedly a rare bird, the number of returning individuals has increased observer familiarity with this form. In addition, the fact that many of these individuals join wide-ranging flocks of Brents, which move around different localities and across county boundaries, has led to real problems in our assessment of which records are attributable to which individual. As a consequence we now have little confidence in our ability to accurately gauge the number of individuals present in each year. We are also aware that we do not receive full details from all counties – perhaps because of the confusion with numbers. BBRC believes that, as counties are closer to the ground, they will be best placed to decide how many and which individuals are involved in any given set of records.

BBRC now believes that the status of Black Brant, as a regular but scarce to rare winter visitor to Britain has now been clearly elucidated and, given the above uncertainties, there is little benefit in us continuing to assess them. We hope that counties will continue the BBRC policy of only accepting records with detailed descriptions of those individuals which display a full suite of characters [British Birds 95: 129-136] as the problem of hybrid birds is slowly increasing. Notwithstanding