British Birds January 2013

Published on 11 January 2013 in Latest issues

BB eye The first in a new series of editorials.

News & comment

Breeding Baillon’s Crakes in Britain In the summer of 2012, at least six, and perhaps as many as 11, Baillon’s Crakes were heard singing in apparently suitable breeding habitat at a minimum of three locations in Britain. Malcolm Ausden, Graham White and Mark Eaton describe the events that led to the finding of these birds, and discuss whether breeding Baillon’s Crakes might have been overlooked in Britain in recent times. They also describe how and where to search for Baillon’s Crakes.

What colour is that bird? The causes and recognition of common colour aberrations in birds The naming of colour aberrations in birds still causes widespread difficulty and confusion. Hein van Grouw’s paper introduces a uniform system of nomenclature and provides a simple identification key for the most common plumage aberrations. Six main aberrant plumage types are grouped, named by their pigment reductions (gene actions). Identifying colour mutations in the field can be extremely difficult but this paper should make it possible to name many mutations correctly.

Little Ringed Plovers in southwest Wales The Little Ringed Plover is associated mostly with gravel-pits in the UK, but in south Wales there are unusually high densities of the species at the western edge of its breeding range nesting on shingle banks along the River Tywi and some of that river’s key tributaries in Carmarthenshire. John Lloyd and Julian Friese describe the survey work that has been carried out on the species on the Tywi and outlines some of the threats faced by the species and possible solutions.

British records of ‘Eastern Yellow Wagtails’ An eastern subspecies of Yellow Wagtail, Motacilla flava simillima, was added to the British List on the basis of two specimens collected on Fair Isle in 1909 and 1912. No further records have been accepted. This short paper reports a genetic analysis of the two accepted specimens and also a recent record of a bird trapped at Colyton, Devon, in December 2010. The 1912 bird was shown to be of western origin and is probably a ‘British’ Yellow Wagtail M. f. flavissima. In contrast, the 1909 and 2010 birds were shown to be of eastern origin.

Notes Increased numbers of wintering Moussier’s Redstarts in Malta; A UK population estimate for the Hawfinch.

Letters The Lapland Bunting influx in France in 2010/11; The Lapland Bunting influx in central Europe in 2010/11; Ring Ouzels in the Atlas Mountains – more birds higher up?

Book reviews and recent reports complete the December issue.

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