Before Bristow: The Brighton Rarities

Published on 05 February 2019 in Main articles

By Andrew Harrop, on behalf of BOURC

Abstract A series of records of rare birds from the Brighton area involved specimens that passed through the hands of Swaysland & Son taxidermists during the period 1854–84. Contemporary doubts over these records, which included several British ‘first records’, prompted reappraisal by BOURC. Initially, the review focused on two records: a White-winged Lark Alauda leucoptera in 1869 and a Blyth’s Pipit Anthus godlewskii in 1882. Both were found to be unacceptable. This paper provides detail on those records, and a wider appraisal of Swaysland & Son. Five more ‘firsts’ (which remain accepted on the British List) were handled by the firm during this era and these should also be reviewed.

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White-winged Lark Alauda leucoptera, said to have been caught on 22nd November 1869 near Brighton, Sussex; now at the Booth Museum, Brighton (BoMNH 208047). Andrew Harrop © Booth Museum