Of all the voluntary surveys and census work that I do now, or have done in the past, I think that WeBS (the BTO/RSPB/JNCC Wetland Bird Survey) is probably my favourite. I’m writing this editorial the evening after my February counts, which produced nothing new and totals very similar to the previous month – but it was still an enjoyable and rewarding day out. I even quite enjoy the follow-up paperwork (and then comparing totals with recent months and past years), and admit that I have trouble refuting my wife’s observation that I’m an obsessive bird counter. Mind you, I am quite sure I’m not the only one out there. And, as well as adding to the national picture, there is always the chance of a decent bird on my lochs and coastal sites. The bigger picture is the important one, though, so it is a pleasure to have the latest report on estimates of Britain’s wintering waterbirds in this issue. WeBS is just one of the surveys from which this report is compiled. In terms of the hours of field effort that goes into a BB article, this one is up there with the best of them. Roger Riddington
Population estimates of wintering waterbirds in Great Britain This paper provides updated estimates of population size for wintering waterbirds in Great Britain using recent data and new analytical approaches for some species that use smaller inland waterbodies or the non-estuarine coast. Overwinter population estimates are presented for 98 species or populations.
Eastern Orphean Warbler on the Isles of Scilly: new to Britain On 12th October 2017, an Orphean Warbler Sylvia hortensis/S. crassirostris was discovered on St Agnes, Scilly. Eventually, the bird was identified as an Eastern Orphean Warbler S. crassirostris and it has been accepted as the first British record.
Bird hunting in Europe: an analysis of bag figures and the potential impact on the conservation of threatened species Official hunting statistics from 24 EU member states as well as Switzerland and Norway were collated. The results show a total annual hunting bag of at least 52 million birds. The bag figures for certain species, such as Common Pochard, Northern Lapwing, Turtle Dove and Skylark, remain high in proportion to their declining populations in Europe. Hunting pressures may be undermining conservation efforts undertaken for these species.
BB eye The shapes of birds’ eggs
Notes Carrion Crow manipulating water taps for drinking and bathing; House Martin nesting indoors on a beam; Double-brooding and renesting in British Hawfinches
Letters More on cow dung; R. M. Lockley, Manx Shearwater pioneer
Book reviews, News & comment and Recent reports complete the March issue.