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Front-cover photograph: Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator, Devon, January 2021. Ben Lucking

610      News and comment   Maddy Hine and Russ Malin
615      Rare breeding birds in the UK in 2021  Mark Eaton and the Rare Breeding Birds Panel
677      Reviews
680      Recent reports

The bulk of this month’s issue consists of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel’s report on rare breeding birds in the UK in 2021. It’s the 48th such report to appear in BB and is published 50 years after the inception of the Panel. A lot has changed with Britain’s breeding avifauna since the first report was published in 1975, and there are a few striking statistics in this month’s report. One phenomenon that has always amazed me is the rate at which egrets and other related species have spread and increased in the UK. I was at Spurn, Yorkshire, in September, and I revelled in watching dozens of Little Egrets on the Kilnsea Wetland pools along with two Spoonbills (both, surprisingly, are rarities here in Sweden). Later on, during the same weekend, a Great White Egret flew over – notable, but hardly unexpected. With that in mind, figure 10 in this year’s RBBP report is fascinating to look at – it plots the rise of Little Egrets and Great White Egrets in the UK, and compares that with numbers of Cattle Egrets, which are still relative newcomers. Numbers of Great White Egrets in Britain have been a little slower to get off the ground compared to Little Egrets, which increased much more quickly. Cattle Egret, it turns out, has so far followed a near-identical trajectory to Little Egret. As the paper says, whether Cattle Egret will reach the projected 500 pairs by 2027 remains to be seen – but it certainly seems that the species has secured its footing as a breeding species in the UK.

Stephen Menzie, Editor

Issue 11
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