Black-capped Petrel – Longest Period Without a British Sighting


The vagrant which has not recurred in Britain for the longest period, but which still exists elsewhere, is the black-capped petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) of Dominica and the Caribbean.

Black-capped Petrel (Pterodroma hasitata) – Unseen since 1850

The last record is of a specimen caught alive on a heath at Southacre, near Swaffham, Norfolk, in March or April 1850.

Bird Facts and Information

Pterodroma hasitata Bird History

Members of the genus Pterodroma have a forceful flight and it is generally young birds which travel great distances. This, 41 cm (16 in) very rare bird, known to breed only in Hispaniola, occasionally wanders northwards and is found off Florida and South Carolina.

Whether the bird which visited Britain was the sub-species P.h.hasitata or the Jamaica petrel P.h.caribbaea, now possibly extinct, is not known. Similarly, it is not known which sub-species of red-necked nightjar was shot at Killingworth, Northumberland on 5 October 1856, but none have been seen since. Caprimulgus ruficollis ruficollis breeds in Portugal, Spain and Morocco but C.r.desertorum in Algeria, Tunisia and south Sahara.

Ruficollis is fairly distinctive among some 70 species of nightjar as it has a yellow-rufous collar. The British nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus) winters mainly in Africa, from Sudan south to Cape Province.

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