In the last quarter of the nineteenth century the Corn Crake bred in every county of Britain and Ireland – it was almost as widespread as any other breeding species, and was considered common across much of its range. Its decline (the result of agricultural intensification) was arguably more dramatic than that of any other breeding bird over the century that followed, and now most of us know it only from a spring trip to the species’ stronghold in Britain, in the islands of Argyll and the Outer Hebrides. Happily, it is still there, and its continued presence is one of the few success stories in farmland bird conservation, thanks in no small part to the efforts of the RSPB’s research biologists. Rhys Green, who was a key figure in that research programme, has written a timely update on the conservation story for this issue of BB; timely because there are signs that conservation efforts in Scotland have weakened recently and also because there are now efforts to help the species regain a foothold in lowland Britain. It seems implausible that Corn Crakes will ever be widespread again, but if they can persist in pockets of suitable habitat that would be a worthwhile achievement. Elsewhere in this issue, we journey from a fascinating review of all the research and ringing that has taken place at Abberton Reservoir, through the Carl Zeiss Award and the best of the rarity submissions received by BBRC in the last year, to the potential value of knotweed to breeding birds in Germany. All of it brought to you in a magazine wrapped in potato starch, which is something new for BB and which should be an environmentally friendly and economical alternative to plastic and paper.

Roger Riddington

666   BB eye: A new generation of university bird clubs

668   News and comment  Adrian Pitches

671   Corn Crake conservation  Rhys Green

686   Great bird reserves: Abberton Reservoir  Chas Holt, Kim Wallis, Maurice Durham, Graham Ekins, Richard Hearn and Roy King

705   The Carl Zeiss Award 2020  Paul French and Chas Holt

715   Songbirds breeding in stands of knotweed in Germany  Jens Hering

719   Reviews

721   Recent reports

725   My patch

Issue 11
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Roger Riddington
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