British Birds February 2013

Published on 01 February 2013 in Latest issues

BB eye Vultures and drugs, by Ian Newton

News & comment

Population estimates of birds in Great Britain and the United Kingdom Following previous reports by the Avian Population Estimates Panel in 1997 and 2006, Andy Musgrove and colleagues present the third collation of population estimates of birds in Great Britain and the UK. There are now thought to be about 84 million breeding pairs of birds in the UK. The ten commonest species contribute 57% of this total, with Wren alone providing one in ten of our breeding birds. In all, 23 species exceed one million breeding pairs. Despite the exceptional level of detail available for some species, many gaps in our knowledge remain.

Vagrant Bimaculated Larks in Europe and the first record for Switzerland On 5th May 2011, a Bimaculated Lark was discovered in southern Switzerland. This was the first record for Switzerland and only the second for central Europe. Marco Thoma and Andreas Täschler discuss the species’ status as a vagrant in Europe, its occurrence patterns and status in captivity.

Genetic analysis of migrant Siberian Chiffchaffs in Britain and Ireland The criteria for robust identification of migrant Siberian Chiffchaffs Phylloscopus collybita tristis in western Europe continue to prove controversial. Whereas many ‘classic’ birds are identifiable on the basis of plumage and vocalisations, many others are less straightforward. This article describes a preliminary genetic analysis of three birds, two from Britain in autumn and one from Ireland in spring, which were trapped and identified as Siberian Chiffchaff.

An exceptional arrival of thrushes on the east coast of England in October 2012 On 22nd October 2012, an exceptional fall of thrushes and other migrants took place on the east coast of England. The two accounts presented here, one from Blakeney Point, the other from Spurn, give a flavour of the conditions and the numbers of birds involved at two sites where a team of observers attempted to make systematic counts of the arrival.

Book reviews and recent reports complete the February issue.

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