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Front-cover photograph: Pied Wagtail Motacilla alba yarrellii, Lincolnshire, January 2009. Graham Catley


174      BB eye: in praise of subspecies          Andy Stoddart
177      News and comment   Maddy Hine and Russ Malin
184      Vagrant ‘Subalpine Warblers’ in northwest Europe J. Martin Collinson, Thom J. Shannon and Tereza Senfeld
195      The rapid extinction of Willow Tits in a post-industrial landscape    Geoff Carr, Jeff Lunn and Sophie Pinder
203      Apparent ‘Pale Iceland Redpolls’ in Norfolk               Andy Stoddart
209      Johann Friedrich Naumann and the advance of ornithology             Karl Schulze-Hagen and Tim Birkhead
214      Letters
219      Reviews
223      Recent reports

This month’s issue has, rather more through accident than design, something of a subspecies theme to it. Andy Stoddart’s BB eye sets the scene, explaining – quite rightly, in my personal opinion – why we perhaps ought to pay more attention to subspecies. Our first main paper looks at the issue of which ‘Subalpine Warblers’ are reaching Britain – a challenge made all the harder owing to the fact that, just a few years ago, the three species in the group were all ‘just’ subspecies of one species. Then there’s a discussion regarding ‘Pale Iceland Redpolls’, an apparently distinctive avian taxon, probably a ‘good’ subspecies, but which currently lacks any formal recognition.

The fact that many of today’s subspecies turn out to be tomorrow’s species should, perhaps, give us something to consider in the context of our other main paper this month: Britain is home to an endemic subspecies of Willow Tit and, as this paper shows, they’re declining at an alarming rate. Although the species is widespread across Eurasia, loss of the British population would see this particular subspecies disappear for good.

Issue 4
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