British Birds has always prided itself on the encouragement it has given to bird identification. As far back as 1907, the first volume included an article by the Hon. Walter Rothschild on the separation of Willow Tits Paus montanus and Marsh Tits P. palustris. Several of its editors have played their parts in the main identification books, the most significant contribution being the sections on 'Fieldcharacters and General Habits' by the late B. W. Tucker, an editor of this journal from 1940 to 1950, in The Handbook of British Birds (1938-41): it is a tribute to his whole new approach to field identification that most of the field guides to this day still draw heavily on his clear and succinct summaries based on years of critical fieldwork and international correspondence. Several papers in the last decade have opened u p new fields. One classic example was Kenneth Williamson's 'Juvenile and winter plumages of marsh terns' (Brit. Birds, 53: 243-252), which showed that White-winged Black Terns Chlidonias leucopterus and Whiskered Terns C. hybrida, regarded even by Tucker as 'probably not separable . . . in the field' out of breeding plumage, could be distinguished then without great difficulty; as a direct result, over 100 White-winged Black and even six Whiskered Terns have been identified in autumn in Britain and Ireland since 1960. Another was D . I. M. Wallace's 'Fieldidentification of Hippolais warblers' (Brit. Birds, 57: 282-31), which brilliantly analysed the distinctions in all plumages of the six species of this
Issue 6
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