Daurian Starling - Agropsar sturninus

On Tuesday 11 October 2005 around 8:30 am Rutger van Ouwerkerk and Christiaan Giljam were birding on Vlieland, a small Dutch island, a notorious migrant trap. From their cottage they watched a large group of Starlings, when suddenly the discovered an odd looking Starling between them. They identified the bird tentatively as a Purple-backed or Daurian Starling Agropsar sturninu, a species not yet recorded in the Netherlands. They warned other birders present on the island (luckily I was there), but that day, they could not found the bird again. Next day - Wednesday 12 October 2005 -, Rob and Christiaan saw the bird again in the morning, flying to the east in a large flock of Starlings. They warned the other birders and 10 minutes later, Leon Edelaar found the bird again, a kilometer to the east. He warned the others and for 10 minutes, he and only seven other birders (including me!) could observe the bird and confirmed the identification. The bird disappeared in western direction and was rediscovered at the original place of discovery at around 17:00, were only two birders - Max Berlijn and Ted Hoogendoorn - from the mainland plus three other birders present on the island were lucky enough to see the bird. Around 17:30 hours it flew in a southwest direction. The following days, it could not be relocated again.

12 October 2005, Vlieland Fr; © Jan van der Laan.

12 October 2005, Vlieland Fr; © Sander Lagerveld.

After studying the photographs, it became clear the bird was a first winter. The secondaries and some tertials were retained juvenile and the base of the bill was light. On the back of the head there were some dark linings, therefore the bird was probably a male.
It was accepted as the first record for the Netherlands and the second for Europe (cf Dutch Birding 29 (6): 366 and 369, plate 530, 2007 and Dutch Birding 33 (4): 233-237, 2011). The first record was a juvenile/first-winter shot in Norway on 29 September 1985. However, two records in the Netherlands were not accepted, on 15 May 1999 at Den Oever (I saw that too!) and on 5 November 1999 at Duiven (currently they are under review). Three records e.g. on Fair Isle, UK on 7-28 May 1985, 26 August to 5 September 1997 at Dungeness and on 24-27 September 1998 at Durness (all males) were placed in category D (cf Dutch Birding 26 (5): 311-312, 2004).

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