British Birds August 2010

Published on 01 August 2010 in Latest issues

Summary of contents

Important Bird Areas: Henderson Island

Mike Brooke tells the story of subtropical Henderson Island, one of the Pitcairn Islands in the central South Pacific. Although over 600 years of Polynesian occupation have left an ecological mark, not least the continuing presence of Polynesian Rats, the island is the Pacific’s best example of an ecologically intact raised coral island. For this reason it was designated a World Heritage Site in 1988. Four landbirds occur, all endemic to the island, of which the most distinctive is the flightless Henderson Crake. The others are a lorikeet, a fruit dove and a warbler. Seabirds abound: a mix of widespread tropical species such as boobies and noddies, and species with more restricted Pacific distributions, notably Pterodroma petrels. For one of these, the Henderson Petrel, Henderson Island is the only known nesting station. However, fieldwork has established that the rats are devastating predators of petrel chicks. To benefit petrels and to achieve wider ecosystem restoration, rat eradication is now being actively planned. If successful, it would be easily the largest rat eradication achieved on British territory.

Bird Photograph of the Year 2010

The winners of the 34th annual Bird Photograph of the Year competition, sponsored by Warehouse Express, Collins, A&C Black and The Eric Hosking Charitable Trust, are announced. The top entries are displayed in the August issue, and will be on show at the Birdfair, where prizes to the winners will be presented by Chris Packham on Friday 20th August at 4.30 pm in the Events Marquee. Mark Hamblin’s terrific shot of a Short-eared Owl in the golden light of an autumn Strathspey dusk, was a worthy overall winner.

The Carl Zeiss Award 2010

The Carl Zeiss Award was established in 1991 and is traditionally presented for the photograph or set of photographs considered to have been the most instructive during BBRC’s assessment of rarities over the previous year. Dougie Holden’s winning photograph was of the Eastern Crowned Warbler at South Shields in October 2009. Without the publication of Dougie’s images the record would presumably have remained as just a Yellow-browed Warbler (which is what it was assumed to be when the shutter was pressed). The fact that it represents a fantasy rarity come true is purely down to this excellent photograph, which led to the bird being identified correctly after it was posted on the web, and then appreciated by the crowds who came to pay homage over the subsequent days.

Isotope forensic analysis does not support vagrancy for a Marbled Duck shot in Essex

Tony Fox and colleagues describe an analysis of the stable-hydrogen isotope content (δD) of feathers taken from a first-winter Marbled Teal shot in Essex in September 2007. The results suggest that the bird originated from outside of the normal breeding range of the species and was most likely to have been of captive origin.

As usual, a range of reviews, news & comment and a summary of recent reports complete the issue.

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