The papers in this issue offer some thought-provoking contrasts, notably between Martin Martin’s seventeenth-century diaries of St Kilda, in an era when Great Auks were still fishing in UK waters, and the analysis of discarded feathers collected from a preening site that revealed the individual identity and provenance of last year’s wandering Bearded Vulture. That vulture would have been a highlight for many BB readers in 2020, and confirms the progress of the Bearded Vulture reintroduction programme in the Alps. This in turn is another counterpoint to Ian Newton’s account of how the ‘Sea Eagle programme’, to restore White-tailed Eagles to their rightful place in the Scottish countryside, came about in the early 1970s. Contemplating the changes in all aspects of ornithology over a birding lifetime is something that may give many of us pause for thought at the start of another year. Correspondence with long-term subscribers is always a highlight for me, and just before Christmas I particularly enjoyed a letter from J. S. C. Robinson, a subscriber since 1945 and who (in his own words) highlighted the following contrast: ‘The award [The Carl Zeiss Award, in the November 2020 issue] for coverage of the Pallid Swift on Skokholm in November 2018 was clinched by a superb series of photographs. Compare that with the first occurrence of [Western] Bonelli’s Warbler, also on Skokholm, on 31st August 1948. I was on a series of visits to that enchanting location and witnessed the distress of my good friend Peter Conder when he resorted to euthanasia to submit the specimen for assessment by Mr Wagstaff at Yorkshire Museum, having failed to make an identification from literature available on the island.’ 

Roger Riddington

2       BB eye: Science and birding – reflections on some pioneers

4       News and comment  Adrian Pitches

8       From the Rarities Committee’s files: BBRC and newly split species  Andy Stoddart and Nigel Hudson

18     The reintroduction of the White-tailed Eagle to Britain  Ian Newton

27     The chick-rearing period of the Great Auk Tim Birkhead

30     ‘Taiga Merlin’: new to Britain  Nina O’Hanlon and Rob Hughes

33     Genetic analysis reveals the origin of a Bearded Vulture in northern Europe Louis Phipps, Franziska Loercher, David Ball and Etienne Marlé

38     Notes

47     Obituaries

51     Reviews

57     Recent reports

59     My patch



Issue 1
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Roger Riddington
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