British Birds November 2012

Published on 31 October 2012 in Latest issues

Summary of contents

Important Bird Areas: St Helena St Helena is a remote, volcanic island in the tropical South Atlantic. Before human settlers arrived, a range of habitats developed and the island supported six endemic landbirds and three endemic seabirds. Human settlement had a devastating impact on St Helena and the Wirebird Charadrius sanctaehelenae is the only endemic bird species that remains. The island is a UK Overseas Territory, and the UK Government has funded a major project to build the island’s first airport. Construction is currently under way, and is intended to provide the platform for a substantial increase in both the resident and the tourist population. Efforts to ensure that important habitats and species are not further degraded will be of the utmost importance in the coming years.

The Lapland Bunting influx in Britain & Ireland in 2010/11 An exceptional arrival of Lapland Buntings in Britain & Ireland occurred in autumn 2010. Large numbers remained to overwinter in some areas, and there was a substantial return migration in spring 2011. The distribution and timing of the influx is analysed. Numbers were greatest in north and west Scotland, and many central and western recording areas reported record numbers. Counts in the southeast were high but generally not record-breaking. Data from Europe are compared with the situation in Britain & Ireland. The origins and causes of the influx are explored and there is circumstantial evidence to suggest that the main drivers of the influx were an unusually good breeding season in Greenland combined with weather patterns in August and September 2010.

Habitat associations and winter distribution of Ring Ouzels in Morocco The breeding population of the Ring Ouzel in Britain has declined and the species is now Red-listed. Since clutch size and fledging success remain stable, factors in the wintering range and/or on migration may be responsible for the decline. This study found the Ring Ouzel to be widespread, yet patchily distributed in the High Atlas Mountains of Morocco. A strong association was found between the bird’s distribution, fruiting juniper Juniperus, and nearby water sources, although large areas of apparently suitable habitat with abundant berries did not hold Ring Ouzels.

Nineteenth-century ornithology, Leadenhall Market and fraud Following recent contributions in BB, this paper discusses some contemporary references to London’s Leadenhall Market as a source of specimens and explores the nature of investigations of notable records in the ‘early days’ of standardised ornithology. Collectors and ornithologists were well aware of the potential for fraud and their working methods were developed to minimise the possibility of it.

Letters, reviews, news & comment and recent reports complete the November issue.

Order your back issue, or subscribe today