British Birds, May 2011

Published on 09 May 2011 in Latest issues

Summary of contents

Field identification and ageing of Siberian Stonechats in spring and summer The Common Stonechat is a widespread breeding species in the Palearctic region. In this paper, Magnus Hellström and Mats Wærn discuss the reliability of characters that enable birds from Europe (S. t. rubicola) to be separated from those breeding in western Siberia and central Asia (S. t. maurus), particularly during the breeding season when differences become subtle. The current understanding of plumage variability within and between these races is discussed, and some gaps in the knowledge of Siberian birds are addressed.

Protocol for censusing urban sparrows The Working Group on Urban Sparrows is investigating the decline of sparrows in urban and suburban habitats. At a meeting held in February 2009, it was decided to define a standardised census procedure that would enable meaningful comparisons of House Sparrow breeding density in urban/suburban areas. A breeding-season mapping census based on ‘active’ nests was proposed and is described here.

Tufted Puffin in Kent: new to Britain An adult Tufted Puffin in breeding plumage was found on the Swale near Faversham, Kent, on 16th September 2009. This sighting represents the first record of this species for Britain and only the second documented occurrence in Europe. Murray Wright describes the circumstances surrounding its discovery and explores other extralimital sightings. Possible routes from the species’ North Pacific breeding grounds to the North Atlantic, based on the extent of ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, are examined.

Raptor migration at Antikythira, southern Greece The first systematic survey of the spring and autumn migration of raptors along the central-eastern Mediterranean flyway, from observations on Antikythira, in southern Greece, is presented here. More raptors were observed in autumn than in spring, mainly due to the much greater autumn passage of adult Honey-buzzards. Results suggest that the entire Greek population of Black Kites uses this flyway. Observations of Short-toed Eagles suggest that adults breeding in southern and central Greece avoid Antikythira and follow a circuitous migration via the Bosporus or Dardanelles, while some juveniles in autumn appear to attempt a sea crossing via Crete to Libya.

Letters Birdcatching in Cyprus and Northern Gannets on Lundy.

Notes Topics covered include Wilson’s Storm-petrel with white stripes on the underwing; spring feeding assemblies of the Hobby in Britain; White-winged Black Terns in Poland in 2010 – a record breeding season; and exceptional numbers of roosting Redwings in Hampshire.

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

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