542 News and comment Maddy Hine and Russ Malin
546 Report on rare birds in Great Britain in 2022 Louise Bacon, Paul French and the Rarities Committee
It was not an easy choice selecting the front-cover photograph for this month’s issue. As you’ll see from the selection of images in the BBRC report, the number of stunning photographs of rarities seems to increase each year, and virtually all of the mega rarities in 2022 were photographed well, including Britain’s first Kelp Gull and Least Bittern (although, admittedly, the latter was photographed from close range in a moribund state). There are also mouth-watering photographs of Eleonora’s Falcon and Blackburnian Warbler, both of which would have made for a smart front cover. And then there was the Sulphur-bellied Warbler from 2021, which may not have been the most visually stunning bird but is, arguably, the rarest of the lot. In the end, though, we went for a photograph of one of the most popular birds of the last couple of years: Bempton’s returning Black-browed Albatross. This bird perhaps sums up best the joy that a rare bird can bring, with thousands of people visiting the site during the bird’s stay to marvel at the South Atlantic visitor. It’s perhaps also fitting to include a photo of this individual, since it failed to return to the seabird cliffs in 2023. Perhaps it was a victim of avian influenza, which has ravaged the North Sea’s Northern Gannet population, or perhaps, after failing to attract a mate, the bird has headed off to try its luck elsewhere.