Purple Haze

Photo: Lee Evans’ superb Rare Birds In Britain book describes a very interesting record that mirrors recent events!

The arrival of a Purple Gallinule of the Western variety porphyrio (aka Western Purple Swamphen) to Minsmere RSPB, the site of this years’ Springwatch, on the East Anglia coast on 30th July 2016 has set the birding scene twitching with many making the journey to one of the UKs’ finest wildlife spots just after the news was broadcast on Sunday 31st July

With the bird still present this morning, Monday 1st August, Minsmere is likely to host one of the biggest twitches of the year, especially if the bird remains through the summer, and more birders usually equals more birds being found, as has already happened with the sighting of a Caspian Tern from birders watching the Purple Swampthing!

Some are predicting that the Minsmere Purple Gallinule might finally get the species on the official British List after a long and complex journey – many twitchers are likely to recall several false starts with Purple Gallinule, such as the 1997 Cumbrian bird that perplexed the experts and could not be assigned to race (the conclusion was a probable hybrid of 2 different races and therefore likely to be an escaped bird from a zoo/collection) and the Cambridgeshire and Welsh birds that were traced to collections

However, one record that does not seem to be tainted is a sub-adult porphyrio (Western Purple Swamphen) at Sandbach in Cheshire from 13th August – 26th September 1971, and this record could possibly support the current Minsmere bird and these could be accepted as the first and second records for Britain


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