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Every year numbers of North American birds are carried across the printers inverness Atlantic by cross-winds while they are making their autumn migration. In most printers inverness cases the migration is down the east coast of Canada and the United States. The majority of these birds are waders, such as the long-billed dowitcher, the lesser yellowlegs, and the buff-breasted sandpiper, printers inverness pectoral sandpiper and white0rumped sandpiper. These are the most numerous of the score or so of American waders which will have been recorded on our showers. The next most numerous groups are water-birds such as the American bittern, Iceland gull, which actually comes from Greenland, the snow goose, blue winged teal, American wigeon and surf scoter.

But land-birds make the journey too; the yellow billed cuckoo is among those most frequently recorded; and in recent years there have been sightings of the American robin, Baltimore oriole, red-eyed vireo and white-throated sparrow. Since 1951, 19 species of American land-birds have been recorded here for the first time. Only since about 1952 have the majority of British ornithologists come to accept that these birds can fly completely across the Atlantic helped only by the wind. Before this it was always assumed that they must have travelled at least part of the way on board shop. No doubt some of them do make part of the Atlantic crossing on ships, but this no longer debars them from a place on the official list of British birds. Species brought here deliberately by man, on the other hand, are not credited with a place on the list unless they escape from captivity and start breeding in the wild.

The regular appearance in waters off the British Isles in late summer or autumn of small numbers of sooty and great shearwaters is one of the highlights of the year for British bird-watchers. The sooty shearwater breeds only on remote islands in the southern oceans, around New Zealand and south of South America; its nearest breeding places to Britain are in the Falkland Islands. The great shearwater breeds only on the Tristan da Cunha group in the South Atlantic. Both species migrate in large loops around the Atlantic each year, and the fringes of their migrations just touch the British Isles. The appearance of Cory’s shearwater is less remarkable because it breeds as near to us as the Berlenga Islands off the coast of Portugal, as well as in Madeira, the Canaries in the Azores. What is remarkable is that it is the least frequent visitor of the three rare shearwaters, appearing only as a late summer wanderer off south-west England.

The birds which man has introduced to the British Isles are mostly game birds or ornamental waterfowl. Some have escaped or have been released deliberately and now breed in such large numbers in the wild that they are considered officially to be native British birds. This category includes the pheasant, the golden pheasant, Lady Amherst’s pheasant, the red-legged partridge, and the capercaillie. Two other game bird species – Reeve’s pheasant and bobwhite quail – still breed in only small numbers in the wild. The introduced waterfowl that have become natives include mandarin duck, Egyptian gooses, mute swan, Canada goose and gadwall – they were brought in like the non-native ruddy duck to embellish landowners’ estates or as part of a waterfowl collection, such as that of the Wildfowl Trust at Slimbridge. It is likely that within a few years all the remaining introduced species will have developed sufficiently to be considered Native.

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