Rare breeding birds in the United Kingdom in 2008
The 35th report of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel (RBBP) presents details of the status of rare breeding birds in the UK in 2008, with a particular focus on colonising or recolonising species. The report includes details of 82 species breeding or showing indications of breeding in 2008, the same number as in 2007. Three species or subspecies appear for the first time (Ferruginous Duck, Cattle Egret and Blue-headed Wagtail) and six species occurred in 2008 that did not feature in 2007 (Black Duck, Black-winged Stilt, River Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Brambling and Common Rosefinch). In a similar vein to 2007, the breeding season of 2008 was marred by several very wet periods, with particularly heavy rain towards the end of May and in June, an important time for many breeding species. The nests of some ground-nesting and riverside birds were flooded out, especially in low-lying areas of England. The wet weather, coupled with strong winds at times, meant that fieldwork opportunities were reduced in some areas, perhaps contributing to under-recording of some species. Highlights of the year were many, but included a record year for Bitterns (with a minimum of 75 booming males reported: welcome news indeed after the apparent stall in population growth in 2006), and the first breeding record of Cattle Egrets. Two, or possibly three, pairs nested in Somerset following a large influx into southern Britain in the preceding winter.
Pacific Diver in Yorkshire: new to Britain
John Mather describes how, on 12th January 2007, a diver was discovered at Farnham Gravel-pit, Yorkshire, and was identified as a juvenile Pacific Diver Gavia pacifica the following morning. It remained at Farnham until 4th February and was seen by many observers. The circumstances of its discovery, together with identification, taxonomy, distribution and subsequent records of Pacific Diver in Europe, are discussed. Pacific Diver has now been added to Category A of the British List and this represents the first record of the species for Britain and the Western Palearctic.
BTO research update
Chas Holt presents a summary of results from the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS), covering the period from July 2008 to June 2009, which illustrates mixed fortunes for waterbirds wintering on our wetlands. Then Mike Toms discusses the emergence of trichomonosis in garden birds. The first confirmed case in a bird in Britain was in April 2005; the disease still seems to be prevalent and work is ongoing to look at the longer-term implications and to establish why the Greenfinch is so susceptible.
Obituary: John Gooders (1937-2010)
John Gooders, who did more than most to broaden the horizons of Britain’s birdwatchers, died on 18th May 2010 after a long illness, aged 73. Barry Yates, warden of Rye Harbour, has penned an obituary for BB.
Reviews, news & comment and a summary of recent reports complete the issue.
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