The annual digest of rarities from BBRC means different things to different people, but I suspect that most readers linger longest on the photos and species accounts for memorable birds they have seen (or occasionally not seen) in that particular year. I expect that the pages in this report with notable crowd-pleasers, such as the Whipsnade Black-throated Thrush or perhaps the Shetland Tengmalm’s Owl, will have particular resonance for many. For the lucky few who managed to stumble across one of the year’s standout birds, the chance to see your record in print, and relive the moment, is surely particularly sweet. I always enjoy picturing the scene at first discovery of the more remarkable birds and the story of Lewis Newman, who saw, and managed to take some lovely photos of, a Nighthawk over Bushy Park in London, is hard to beat. Just imagine that! The fact that it appears to be the same individual Nighthawk as the one that was seen by so many birders in Northern Ireland in the preceding days adds so much to one of the rarity stories of the decade.
Comparing this year with last year, comparing one species with another, looking back to the report of 10, 20, 30 years earlier: these are all things that I know many readers will be doing, and that process has suddenly become significantly easier. The new BB Online, described by Stephen Menzie in last month’s BB eye (pp. 510–511), allows subscribers to log in to our website and find every BBRC report ever published. Subscribers have free access to the entire BB back catalogue (aka BB Online) with their current subscription – simply register at https://britishbirds.co.uk/content/subscriber-access-bb-online. When you renew your current subscription, we’ll be asking you for an extra £2 per year if you want to continue with both paper and digital. Rest assured that there are absolutely no plans to stop the print version. But if you want to flick back to the 1999 report and remember where the three Nighthawks were that year, in the best autumn on record for the species, it’s suddenly a whole lot easier to do that on your phone/tablet/laptop than rummaging around for that box of back issues in the loft. Especially since you’ll need the 2002 report as well, for the last of the 1999 records…
580 BB eye: Ornithological publishing – thank goodness for BB! Tim Birkhead
582 News and comment Adrian Pitches
585 Report on rare birds in Great Britain in 2019 Chas Holt, Paul French and the Rarities Committee