Periodically, we shall be devoting the major part of an entire issue to the birds and ornithology of a single geographical region. This number of British Birds is the first, and we felt it appropriate to start by featuring the closest neighbour to Britain: the island of Ireland. Although zoogeographically part of the British Isles, the avifauna of Ireland differs from that of Britain in many minor and some major respects. For this account of Ireland's birds, the political boundary between the 26 counties of the Republic of Ireland and the six counties of Northern Ireland, which is part of the United Kingdom, has been ignored; it is, however, relevant to the appraisal of Ireland's ornithological outlook and future, and the similarities and differences between the two areas are noted by Dr Raymond O'Connor in his paper (pages 85-92). We aim with these special issues to paint a picture of a country or region which will be a valuable summary both for present-day ornithologists living elsewhere and for all ornithologists in the future. The impoverished breeding landbird avifauna of Ireland is well known, but the island's internationally important riches are often unknown to or overlooked by outsiders and perhaps not fully appreciated (in two senses) even by Irish birdwatchers. Of these riches, the breeding seabirds are discussed by Oscar Merne (pages 80-85) and the hordes of migrant and wintering waterfowl and waders, as well as the role of Ireland as a hard-weather haven for thrushes, are described by Clive Hutchinson

Issue 2
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