Mark Holling’s last hurrah from the RBBP secretary’s desk amounts to another fascinating report. The changes that have taken place over the time that he and I have worked together on this report are remarkable: colonising herons and other waterbirds, and generally thriving raptors, but dwindling populations of some once widespread and familiar birds. I recall that when he started in the job we had a conservation about ways to make the report more appealing to readers. As for the vast majority of the contributions to BB, I was keen to cut down the size of it, in places at least, and the tendency of the RBBP report to include extralimital species holding territory briefly in spring was a particular target for my red pen. Living on Shetland, it is relatively common to get lingering rarities that launch into song for a few days when the weather is settled. Since then, we have come up with guidelines of what to include (a minimum period of five days of territorial behaviour) – and now I think it is fascinating to see these as potential colonists. Fifteen years ago, who would have predicted Iberian Chiffchaffs in South Wales? Yet now I think it will be surprising if his successor is not able to include the UK’s first breeding records of other such species. My money’s on Blyth’s Reed Warbler – but there’s a few options to choose from. One thing is for sure; we can no longer summarise this annual report as ‘more or less the same as last year’.
698 BB eye: The changing nature of bird conservation – some reflections Mike Clarke
701 News and comment Adrian Pitches
706 Rare breeding birds in the UK in 2017 Mark Holling and the Rare Breeding Birds Panel
759 Obituaries – Howard Medhurst
768 Recent reports
771 My patch