The Isles of Scilly is renowned as a haven for displaced migrant birds, and the autumn pilgrimage of observers in September and October is famous in ornithological circles. June is usually a quiet month for numbers of visiting birdwatchers, as are the other months outside the autumn, but June 1990 was the exception. In one five-day period, between 800 and 1,000 people came to see one bird: the first record for Britain & Ireland, Europe and the Western Palearctic of a North American species, Tree Swallow Tachycineta bicolor. On Wednesday 6th June 1990, having finished my shift behind the bar in the Mermaid Inn, I decided to go to Porth Hellick. I watched from the main hide for a while and could hardly believe how devoid of bird life it was. I could not even console myself by counting the Moorhens Gallinula chloropus. At about 19.00 BST, five hirundines approached low over the pool: one House Martin Delichon urbica, three Barn Swallows Hirundo rustica and another bird. This fifth bird gave the impression of a martin, but with no white rump and a glossy blue-green mantle and crown, and pure white underparts. My heart sank as the bird then flew to the back of the pool and began hawking around the pines and surrounding fields. I rushed to Sluice to obtain closer views and to note its plumage in detail. It appeared slightly bigger and bulkier in the body than a House Martin, with broader-based wings and more powerful flight.
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British Birds – how it works
BB 2000 Ltd, the company that owns and publishes British Birds, is run by a board of directors, all of whom are volunteers. The company employs two full time staff – Roger Riddington is the journal’s editor while Hazel Jenner manages subscriptions and administration – and three part-time design/editorial staff.
The company is wholly owned by The British Birds Charitable Trust (BBCT, registered charity no. 1089422). Neither the company directors nor the trustees are paid for their services, providing their time and enthusiasm because they passionately believe in the value of BB. The Company is managed with a view to making a small profit which can be donated to the Trust to help fund its charitable work.
Over the past six years, this, combined with donations from other sources, has enabled the Trust to give almost £70,000 support to a variety of conservation and educational projects ranging from rat eradication on seabird islands to the study of cuckoo migration, as well as assisting young birders develop their interest.
A full list of projects is given here. The Trust is seeking to expand its charitable endeavours and would welcome donations from like-minded organisations and individuals.