British Birds, August 2011

Published on 01 August 2011 in Latest issues

Summary of contents

The changing status of the Common Crane in the UK The Common Crane was a familiar part of the UK avifauna up to the sixteenth century, although there are some uncertainties over its former status. There is more evidence that Cranes wintered regularly in the UK rather than bred widely. They probably became extinct because of over-exploitation, with the last evidence of breeding in England in 1542. Cranes subsequently became rare in the UK, but since the 1950s have become increasingly regular passage migrants. In the autumn of 1979, four birds arrived in the Norfolk Broads. Two of these stayed and started breeding in 1981; Cranes have bred in the Broads every year since then. As described by Andrew Stanbury and the UK Crane Working Group, population growth to 1997 was slow, mainly because of poor productivity, but since then success has improved and the number of breeding pairs has increased steadily. Elsewhere, a single pair has bred in Yorkshire since 2002 while the Fens of East Anglia were colonised in 2007, where up to three pairs nest annually. In 2010, there were 13-14 breeding pairs (which fledged eight young), three non-breeding pairs and a wintering population of c. 50 birds in the UK. Cranes remain a rare breeding species in the UK, but should continue to colonise new areas if present trends continues.

The return of the Red-billed Chough to Cornwall: a review of the first 10 years and prospects for the future In 2001, three Red-billed Choughs settled on the Lizard peninsula in Cornwall and a successful breeding attempt followed in 2002. Since then, breeding has taken place each year and, by spring 2011, the population had increased to six pairs, which fledged a record-breaking 15 young. This population has been the subject of nest protection and targeted habitat management to maximise the chances of successful natural recolonisation. Monitoring has provided detailed information on the establishing population and will provide early warning of future problems. Ian Johnstone and his colleagues review the project, describe how the Cornish birds have performed during the last decade, offer comparisons with Red-billed Chough populations elsewhere in northwest Europe and speculate on what the future may hold.

Bird Photograph of the Year 2011 Sponsored by: Anglian Water; and supported by Christopher Helm, Collins and The Eric Hosking Charitable Trust. The British Birds Bird Photograph of the Year competition continues to attract the very best examples of work from both professional and amateur photographers and this is reflected in this year’s top entries. Many birdwatchers now carry some sort of camera, and it seems that bird photography in all its various guises has never been more popular – the proliferation of websites and blogs is testament to that. This year, a photograph of a roding Woodcock by Kevin Du Rose was the first choice of two judges and in the top five of a further three, making it a clear-cut and worthy winner. Kevin will be presented with a cheque for £1,000 at the Birdfair on Friday 19th August 2011.

 

The Carl Zeiss Award 2011 The Carl Zeiss Award, established in 1991, is awarded for a photograph, or set of photographs, judged to have been most instructive for the BBRC’s assessment of difficult species (or subspecies) during the previous year. This year’s winner by a clear margin was Adrian Kettle’s series of images of a juvenile Baikal Teal in Essex in October. This bird was discovered during a bird-race by bicycle and was only on view for an hour before it took flight and was never relocated. Each of the observers submitted detailed descriptions and copies of field sketches, which helped the Committee’s deliberations greatly, but it was Adrian’s images that provided significant additional detail and secured the identification, ruling out the pitfall of hybrids and lookalikes. Adrian will be presented with a pair of 8×32 Zeiss FL binoculars at the Birdfair on Friday 19th August 2011.

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

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