By Mark Holling and the Rare Breeding Birds Panel
Abstract The 35th report of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP) presents details of the status of rare breeding birds in the UK in 2008, with a particular focus on colonising or recolonising species. The report includes details of 82 species breeding or showing indications of breeding in 2008, the same number as in 2007. Three species or subspecies appear for the first time Ferruginous Duck, Cattle Egret and Blue-headed Wagtail and six species occurred in 2008 that did not feature in 2007 (Black Duck, Black-winged Stilt, River Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Brambling and Common Rosefinch). In a similar vein to 2007, the breeding season of 2008 was marred by several very wet periods, with particularly heavy rain towards the end of May and in June, an important time for many breeding species. The nests of some ground-nesting and riverside birds were flooded out, especially in low-lying areas of England. The wet weather, coupled with strong winds at times, meant that fieldwork opportunities were reduced in some areas, perhaps contributing to under-recording of some species. Highlights of the year were many, but included a record year for Bitterns (with a minimum of 75 booming males reported: welcome news indeed after the apparent stall in population growth in 2006), and the first breeding record of Cattle Egrets. Two, possibly three pairs of Cattle Egrets nested in Somerset following a large influx into southern Britain in the preceding winter.