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ronnie baker

Can I get a copy of Dick Treleaven’s obituary please. He was a longtime Peregrine friend of mine,the North Cornish cliffs being his ‘patch’ and
West Dorset being mine.,we spent many happy hours together over the years.
thank you,
ronnie baker

Rishad Naoroji

The grand old man is no longer with us but will be remembered. I have his ‘In Pursuit of the Peregrine’’ and have seen his paintings which vividly depict Peregrines in the wild.

Grahame Madge

With Fox Sparrow, Elegant Tern, Bald Eagle, Thayer’s Gull and Cackling Goose already on the Northern Ireland list, you could argue that the ‘UK list’ is a lot closer to 600, if the taxonomy could be reconciled.

My prediction for the 600th species: Thayer’s gull.

Denis Feiler

What a truly beautiful bird. What a pity they do not survive. What actually causes the lack of pigment? If they do not survive to adulthood, it cannot be inherited. It seems to be a very rare thing in most species. Is it?
These pictures are amazing.

David Wege

BirdLife International has been working with the Barbados Wildfowlers Association for the last 3 years. We have restored an abandoned “shooting swamp” as a Shorebird Refuge, and have been working with hunters to raise heir awareness of the issues concerning certain species of conservation concern. This work has been funded by the US Fish and Wildlife Service and the Canadian Wildlife Service. Results so far are as follows: no hunters are shooting vulnerable species such as Red Knot, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Hudsonian Godwit, and Upland Sandpiper; most swamps have stopped the harvest of Whimbrel and Black-bellied Plover; almost all swamps have stopped the practice of using tape lures to attract birds; and there is general awareness of the population declines shown by American Golden Plover and Lesser Yellowlegs. BirdLife has been working with the Canadian Wildlife Service (CWS) and the Wildfowlers Association to analyse annual hunting figures to set bag limits. A recent field visit by CWS was well received by the hunters who are keen to work towards a sustainable harvest, and to desist from shooting species of concern. The shooting swamps in Barbados are all privately owned and are all artificial (being sustained only by the water being pumped on them by the landowners). Almost all natural freshwater wetlands have been destroyed, so the the shooting swamps provide some of the only wetland habitat on the island. BirdLife has managed to pursuade the swamp owners to maintain these wetlands year-round (i.e. to pump water all yar, and not just during the autumn migration). We now have wetland habitat across the island providing habitat for a multitude of resident wetland species.

m watterson

i was shocked and angry to read about the senseless kulling of these migratrating wetland species. Barbados URGENTLY need to address their policy and legislation on bird conservation. enviroment agencies must work more closely with landowners in order to reach a more satisfactory solution to this barbaric situation.


Nigel Redman, Commissioning Editor at A&C Black says: ‘It’s the same book. We bought the EU rights to the title, but put it into our WTWB series, and hence changed the book’s title. But it’s exactly the same book inside!’

Alan Dean

One might add that the current spate of changes in the taxonomic order of species is also problematic – both for publications (especially local/county reports) and archiving software. While matching taxonomic order to perceived evolutionary and genetic parameters is no doubt sensible, it seems clear that the current relationships are not yet established beyond doubt and that there will be on-going changes for the foreseeable future, given the current level of research into the topic. It might be preferable to adhere to an agreed order and leave this as the ‘status quo’, rather than making changes in response to each new genetic study. Occasional changes might be necessary but should be limited to a period over which the indications of the ‘latest’ genetic studies have achieved some level of confirmation and stability.

Alan Tilmouth

These birder profiles work really well but, if I could be so bold as to suggest, they need to be more in depth and more relevant to birding e.g earliest birding memory; optics used; best self-find; most embarrassing etc

Alan Dean

I quite enjoyed reading these – especially Martin’s comment re Isaac Newton and the pear tree! However, these ‘trial examples’ have novelty value and I suspect that further contributiions would soon become ‘samey’. It seems best suited as a feature on the website – which needs content NOT reproduced in the journal if it is to attract readership – but my own view is that it lacks the necessary depth to justify it as a BB feature. Guest editorials (as have already appeared on occasions), examining ‘ issues of the day’ in greaetr depth, might be a better idea? Also, as I suggested in my BBRC write-up, profiles of BBRC members (and BOU members etc) would certainly be worthwhile.

darrell j prest

from my observations this winter in halifax west yorkshire,which has had good numbers of waxwings this winter.
the birds are roosting in conifer plantations at mixenden and ogden reservoirs which are 3 to 5 miles away from where they are feeding during the day.

steve young

Ah…Mr Kehoe does have a finest achievement in birding; it was showing a young-ish dark haired beginner birder/photographer how to ID his first Med Gull at Seaforth and patiently that gulls weren’t difficult, it was just a matter of looking at them properly.
I listened to this young kid and learned.
His second finest achievement was staying awake all the way back from Prawle Point in Oct 1987, after an overnight B+W Warbler twitch, to keep the driver company, even when I fell asleep at the wheel…happy days!
Steve Young

David Ewbank

in Zimbabwe, I found Red-knobbed Coots practised brood division with each parent rearing a single chick – does this also occur in the Black Coot?

Mark Stone

I bought this book before I read this review, and found it truly awesome. This book tells you everything you want to know about birds and about people. It gives a big insight about why and how hunters hunt, and this is very crucial to help change mentalities. Coming from the author of Fatal Flight, which had truly exposed the massacre of birds taking place on this tiny Mediterranean Island, this book now charts a way forward with innovative ideas, which, if implemented effectively, can save a lot of European birds. I am glad this review was so honest about the book, for I read one review which spoke of images “of varying quality”. But when I bought the book I was surprised by stunning photos of birds taken in such a hostile territory. It’s easy to take a photo of a Robin in a British back garden, but try taking it on migration! And in the book we see two Robins on the same stone. I never saw that before anywhere!
The book contains images of birds in everything from prehistory to shotgun shells and bird calls used by hunters to fine art and sculpture. The amount of bird lore in the book is unparalleled. The part about Malta’s ornithological history is fascinating: I was intrigued by the network that was in place between ornithologists in one of our former colonies. All our major British ornithologists were involved in one way or another with ornithologists in Malta.
The author’s find of Charles A. Wright’s manuscripts in a British Library are a real treasure trove and he did well to bring them to the fore. The book documents the pique between ornithologists in Malta and it is really sad to see squabbling about whether one should publish a book or not. I did not know that the Maltese Ornithological Society had tried to stop the illustrious David Bannerman from writing a book about the birds of Malta! Indeed, this is more than the Maltese version of Birds Britannica. Perhaps that is why the author of Birds Britannica, Mark Cocker, described this book about birds of Malta as three books in one. It’s also very well written, apart from being well researched. The author’s scientific rigor is simply beyond reproach and yet the book is so easy and pleasant to read. The bibliography itself is impressive. I have no hesitation to recommend this book to anyone.

John Brewster

I came across this book while on holiday in Malta after its cover caught my eye in a shop window. It was just before Christmas and it was the best Christmas present I ever bought myself for a long time. The book not only added value to my holiday in Malta but also changed the way I now look at birds.
The book is divided into two main sections: the first is about anything to do with birds while the second is about the birds themselves, ornithology. But even this section is infused by scholarly folklore I have never seen the likes of it before.
The author should be complemented for coming up with such a new way of looking at birds. This is really a book about anything to do with birds and I was surprised that a tiny Island like Malta had such a wealth of culture of bird-related lore. Rightly so, the book starts in pre-history, and shows splendid bird pendants from Malta’s rich pre-historic past. It was a thrill to see cultures older than Stonehenge cherishing birds and having their images on pendants. The bird overflows with other images of birds in everything… from embroidery to stamps and from phone cards fine art. And everything is Maltese!
If you thought it was only us Brits who had rhymes about four and twenty Blackbirds baked in a pie, then think twice! Or better still, read this book, to see the wealth of proverbs and rhymes that Malta has mentioning birds. The author carefully divided proverbs in different sections, proverbs dealing with birds and weather, birds and migration, metaphorical proverbs that mention birds, and so on. This makes a lot of sense and shows how in touch with nature older people were.
The historical anecdotes about Victorian hunter-birders are as amusing as they are interesting. We are still collecting just as they did, but we don’t kill the birds any more. Now we collect field records!
The ornithological part is really great. For the ornithologist, the many records given would give a big insight. For those less interested in records, there is ample information about which birds occur and when. The book also lists several new records for Malta that are of immense interest to the European ornithologist and the records are very much up to date. Quite beautiful photos of birds accompany each section. Well, there are species of which we sometimes see really overpowering images in bird magazines, but I noted that most of the photos were by the author and presumably this was made to keep the costs of the book to more than decent levels, for if one had to pay, say a tenner, for every photo, the price of the book would have spiralled! I read the book contains some 900 images, and I am not surprised, for there is hardly a page without photos. I also liked the intelligent way photos were used. Some photos were used in margins, making a point without overstating it. Others are given the space they deserve.
The book shows that Malta has made a lot of progress as far as birds are concerned. The Island is transforming itself from a black spot to a place where tourists will soon start going to see birds. And this book is another step to help that goal to be achieved.

T Roberts

I came across this on the net and was quite taken back with what I read and did a further search on the net on this topic and I can say the old saying of there are three sides to a story must actually be true.

In my research I have read the exact same words written by this author over and over again since 2004 with no new study to update his article. The article is written in a way to shock the reader in to outrage at this barbaric practice, which it should for us non-hunting person.

In speaking to the Barbados Wildfowlers Association the shooting swamps have collectively agreed not to play audio recordings, for the past 5 years, to encourage the birds in to the swamps and this has reduced the number of birds being shot. The BWA educates the shooting swamps on which migrating birds are endangered and are not to be shot. This seems to be a step in the right direction if the efforts continue, although the extremist may think not fast enough.

Then you have the readers from International countries sreaming to place sanctions on Barbados with international pressure from the “Big Brother” countries when this tradition was handed from the British Empire to begin with.

Attached is an interesting article on the bird shooting in the UK. I have used the UK article and not the US article I came across as this is a UK Forum.

I would like to see any updated information or study on bird shooting activity in Barbados to help us readers fully understand and form an educated opinion on this issue.

Brian Hill

No problem with this on the website, for those who like this kind of thing, but I most certainly would not wish to see it in the journal. It seems very similar to the ‘Personalities’ feature that was dropped a few years ago now.
I have a keen interest in birds but this does not necessarily extend to those who watch them, key figures or otherwise. I buy BB for the bird content and would hate to see this reduced to accommodate features on birders, no matter how interesting, talented or dedicated they may be.
For what its worth, I think BB is just about right at present so, as the cliche goes, if its not broken don’t fix it……

Tristan Folland

I watched several waxwings today in Cambridge with strings of ‘gloo’ hanging from their undertail coverts. Most of these were seen on birds whilst perched although one bird flew in with a good 10 cm long string of goo trailing behind it. Some of the strings of gloo clearly had seeds in them and eventually detached from the birds when gravity took effect. It appeared that the waxwings had been feeding on cotoneaster.


I had a 91 year old neighbour who has recently passed away. She knew everything about birds I know nothing. So I need some advice, she has a nesting box on the side of her house which Blue tits have used for over 20 years. If I was to move this 50 meters to my house will they find it


Arlene – why not buy a second box and put it on your house – there’s a good chance that you might get birds in both boxes. If successive generations of Blue Tits have been using the one in your neighbour’s garden for 20 years it’s obviously a popular spot, so it seems a shame to disturb that site. There are some useful guidelines for making and siting nestboxes on the net at:

Dougie Dickson

I think you need to change some of the quite naff questions and ask the person meaty birder-related ones. If you could go back in time… what keeps you awake at night are simply uninteresting to birders reading BB. Martin’s obviously a very clever chap and I’m sure, in this instance he played a lot down. I’d make the questions conversational so that there’s follow-on to the first placed question. We want to be able to build a picture of the person interviewed.

Jerzy Dyczkowski

I would point that the new edition of WP list proves those who believe that splitting is current fashion. For over 30 split species, only Tenerife Goldcrest Regulus teneriffae has been lumped. The number of genera and families increased similarily.

I also would be very interested in reasons of addition and deletion of some species. Recent vagrants to Northern Europe are well publicized, but I am puzzled why, for example, Temminck’s Courser Cursorius temminckii appeared on the list and several species were deleted. Chestnut Bunting Emberiza rutila, if I remember well, was included on WP list, deleted and currently appears again. I also recall that Hooded Crane Grus monacha and Spoon-billed Sandpiper Eurynorhynchus pygmaes were on WP list at some point. The reasons why they were both once included and later deleted are as mysterious as the birds themselves.

Steve Holliday

I pretty much agree with Alan T above; I think the questions have to be birding related and snappy. Dare I say, have a look at Yorkshire Birding – they’ve been doing this on and off for years and each one is interesting and relevant (NB wasn’t one in the most recent issue though).
With BB having 12 issues a year, there must be ample scope for this being an ‘occasional’ item, starting with the Editor!

Maurice Scott

This is simply a fabulous book that really raises the bar as far as bird books are concerned. I bought the book after reading some very good reviews and thought that since comments were so positive, this must be a really special book. Indeed, it surpassed my expectations. Very well researched and written, it covers all aspects one can think of… and much more. Well done to all those associated with the book, and those who have been commenting about it. It is really a work of art, and full of valid information too.

Jack Serle

Thank you for an informative and helpful review. I had hoped to buy this book for my mother, a keen amateur birder. From what you say it does seem that the US focus is apparent; do you think this would detract overly from the book as a whole? Or does it not really matter? Not being much of a bird watcher myself I don’t know but I would imagine if examples given in the book are only found on the other side of the Atlantic it would be rather frustrating.




I think that anyone interested in this fascinating topic wouldn’t be too put off by the American bias – the subject is universal.

Best wishes,

Roger Riddington

Jeff Martin

I welcome this feature. It’s always good to put a face to names that you read about. Robin’s article on buzzard behaviour in BB a short while back was very interesting. I should like to read a little more about this seemingly very interesting man. I warmed to him when he started to talk about his notebook. I have seen articles recently where the decline , and possible ‘extinction’ of the notebook has been mentioned. I think that notebook information is even more important now than it was a few years back.

Well done BB. Let’s have more of these profiles.

mark watterson

whilst agreeing with the need to investigate the decline of sparrows in urban and suburban areas, it is also important to realise their decline is directly due to the changes in their natural habitats. The reasons for this is partly due to the landscape becoming increasingly industrialised and peoples gardens no longer being a place of quiet refuge to the house sparrow, due to the increase in garden decking and patios etc.

Graham Martin

Gerard Gorman raises an interesting observation. I looked at dark marks in the iris in Eurasian Oystercatchers H. ostralegus about 20 years ago. A photographer friend gave me a portrait of one showing very clear black marks within the bright red iris, which on first sight looked like a non-circular pupil. However, we found that it was an illusion caused by black pigmentation at the margins as reported here in woodpeckers. We looked at some other birds and found the marks were variable and since I concluded then that they did not have any visual function I did not pursue it but in the light of the work on Black Oystercatchers it would have been worth ore effort. The general conclusion about iris colour in birds ( and for that matter in vertebrates in general) is that it does not have a visual function but it is more likely to have a signalling function, either as an extension of plumage colouration e.g. iris contrasts strongly with surrounding feather and skin, or it may indicate age (bird ringers use iris colour for aging in some birds), individual identity or possibly fitness. With the variation that Gerard Gorman observed individual identity might be the function and he alluded to that in his BB article. Even in humans the function of variation in iris colour might be individual identity or to make pupil size variation more conspicuous as a signal of emotional state.

I recently had a piece on iris colouration in New Scientist magazine (18 May 2011, issue 2813) replying to a query about why grebes have red eyes. Again I do not think there is a visual function, rather it is a signalling function which indicates species and possibly individual identity. I also remember looking into the eyes of Macaroni Penguins. They have complex pattern of dark pigmentation in a predominantly red iris giving the effect that when stopped down their pupils are star shaped, but again it is an illusion, the pupils are circular.

Angela Houghton

I don’t understand why there is so much fuss about standardising the English vernacular names of birds. I thought that was what scientific names were for!

Roland Graf

A very nice abstract about this species, but you don’t get all records of this bird in Europe.

Best regards

Roland Graf

Charlie Hilken

We would like to go to Holkham to see the spoonbill colony. Could you tell me when they usually leave on their Autumn migrition, please? Thanks.


This is a wake-up call for the Lebanese authorities. Stop the carnage or face the wrath of the rest of civilization.

Miss Bloggins

Interesting to read about ornithologists. A good feature.but please leave out the bits about Dawkins and God, since many bird lovers, (even those with science degrees) choose religious life/philosophy and the notion of “God’s” miraculous incredible creation of the universe, cosmos, of evolution, of us and birds. Why does Mr Ian Carter featured own a dog (not very “green” and tending to frighten off wildlife)? There are far too many dogs and cats in the UK. We too go up and down the M11, so are all polluters. When I was a teenager in East Africa I used to see countless impressive kites swirling in the sky near to town dump/s etc. Having been informed were “just scavengers” I now wondered what all the oohs and aahs were for from people seeing them in UK. But they are beautiful.Well done to conserve them and other species. I’m bothered about motorists ignoring the possibility of crashing into the newly introduced large birds such as cranes and great bustards (the same way they race through Thetford Forest, little imagining how an impact with deer could kill several people)

Gerard Gorman

Graham, one of the many things in all this that puzzles me is why such marks do not occur to the same extent in other woodpeckers.

Markus Jais

I agree with Ian. This really is a great book about the British Raptors.

I hope that there will be an expanded edition covering all raptors of Europe incl. such amazing birds as the Bonelli’s Eagle or the Eastern and Spanish Imperial Eagle.

liz snell

I think this is a very good feature but best kept for the website where it won’t be trimmed for length. I hope the movers and shakers in conservation are all interviewed and reply with the same honesty. No problem with religious opinion, its good to know what people really think, why should it offend? Its also good to hear politically incorrect views once in a while, I thought I was the only person questioning the crane project!

H. Feenstra

I follow the cranes in Holland since they breed here in 2001. Now we have 5 pairs in 2011.Can you send me a number of BB with this article.

Herman Feenstra


[…] British Birds, May 2011 | British BirdsDescription : Possible routes from the species’ North Pacific breeding grounds to the North Atlantic, based on the extent of ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, are examined. Raptor migration at Antikythira, southern Greece The first systematic survey of … Eagles suggest that adults breeding in southern and central Greece avoid Antikythira and follow a circuitous migration via the Bosporus or Dardanelles, while some juveniles in autumn appear to attempt a sea crossing via Crete to Libya. … .. […]

Atlantic Ocean Birds Migration | | FISHING WORLDFISHING WORLD

[…] Photo #01513363db: south africa western cape atlantic ocean coast … THE ARCTIC TERN Migration of animals | World Religion Culture and People British Birds, May 2011 | British BirdsDescription : Possible routes from the species’ North Pacific breeding grounds to the North Atlantic, based on the extent of ice cover in the Arctic Ocean, are examined. Raptor migration at Antikythira, southern Greece The first systematic survey of … .. […]


Obviously, shooting of Whimbrels continues, despite assurances— the more civilized approach of “working with the gunners”, and “education” is not a complete, lasting solution!
Why not hit them the only place it hurts–support a boycott of tourism under the “green tourism” moniker until we get the governments of these three island/countries? Only when people threaten to take away the tourism dollar will this be completely stopped.

Roy Smith

Please can you publish the name and contact details of the minsters responsible for tourism and nature conservation in the Cyprus government? I feel individual letters are more likely to have impact than a petition organised by an interest group. I’m not saying the latter is not worthwhile but with Amnesty, for example, large numbers of individual letters seem to have impact.

Michael Lord

I would like to order a copy of the August 2011 edition of BB, but cannot find a way to do this on the website. Could you please advise?
Thank you.

Jonn Mero

For anyone who wants an extended version of this one there is available by Stig Frode Olsen ‘Rovfugler og Ugler i Nord-Europa’ (Birds of Prey and Owls in Northern Europe).
It is in Norwegian and somewhat pricey, but the images are just incredible, and Olsen is telling about the birds in his own words. He is a biologist as well as a top notch photographer. .

Jan Hill

Today, 12th December we saw a sociable lapwing north of Castuera
Extremadura Spain. EX 103 km 77, 3 or 4 kms along the cindered track. We took a photo of it. If you need any more info please email us.
Regards Jan Hill and Les Battle

Peter Woodruff

Void of any precise details re date and place, I saw a Barn Swallow in Lancashire in autumn last year at a time when they were heading back to their winter quarters, this bird was in the company of several others of the species flying south, it was a special moment for me in my birding life.

Dave Abdulla

I spent a few days here in early september 2011, birds pass over quite high up, manged to catch up with a few Saker Falcons

Writing Radar: February 13th 2012 | Barbara Hopkins – The Feature Writer

[…] British Birds                                                                                                               This is a monthly journal for all keen birdwatchers, publishing articles on a wide variety of topics including behaviour, distribution, conservation, identification, status and taxonomy. Paying market.       […]

Steve Cox

A wonderful proposal showing long term forward thinking for both the protection of threatened seabird populations and the communities that rely upon the benefits of tourism. Well done Nick and All

William Jones

This is very interesting. Whilst in De Hoop Nature Reserve, South Africa this January I witnessed exactly the same behaviour with a mixed flock of Pearl-breasted, Greater Striped and White-throated Swallows, sunning themselves on a low wall in a compound. This phenomenon could well be widespread in Hirundines.

Mr Mrs Herbert

To our horror we have noticed a number of chaffinches are getting this disease.We of course have stopped feeding to try and help,as per the advice given by the rspb,but we feel there is not enough publicity given to this problem and untill there is it will only get worse.My wife and i,who live in Argyll are trying in our own little way by distributing advice leaflets taken from the rspb site to all local people who we know feed birds on a regular basis.

Gordon Ridley

As an avid collector of birding literature I appreciate what a huge undertaking this is, and how useful to other birders – thanks to Keith Naylor for making it freely available. Is the database an on-going or a finished project? If it is on-going, what are the gaps; and does Keith want any help?


Gordon – you’re absolutely right, it is an amazing piece of work. Keith is continuing to compile, as far as I know, and I hope that we might be able to post updates on the BB site at intervals. Roger Riddington

alex miller

i live in hazel grove stockport and have seen 4 chaffinces in my garden today. l lived here 10 years. first sighting

Doris Charles

Please where does the Citril Finch Migrate too, also is it a British bird, its a good looking bird i have quite a selection of wild bird books British and European and South African books.

Kind Regards Doris Charles


Trying to order a back issue (Nov 2010) but the website keeps directing me to the subscriptions page – I am already a member.

Joel Marchal

Dear Mr Lawson
As the owner of a Lodge in Bijagua de Upala, C.R. a more upscale option to Las Heliconias Lodge in the area (with similar features, own trail and so on), I have tried to open your Web page for the C.R. Birding Guide you write, without success. so I hope I am reaching you now.
I would like to speak with you with you, either by this medium, or by phone, if at all possible. Because we receive a lot of bird watchers (Wings, Audubon Sty, Richard Garrigues etc.) my intentions being to have the privilege to be included in the next edition of your renowned guidebook.
Hoping to hear back from you, I thank you for your attention
Joel Marchal
Celeste Mountain Lodge


I live in North Shields and have lived here for 15yrs, today is the first time I have seen a chaffinch in my garden, I often have goldfinches visiting to feed but never had a Chaffinch before.

Joe Sultana

The authors couldn’t have said it better when they warned the ornithological community that it is also likely that small-scale fruad continues today. This is true for several countries. In Malta, where Victorian-style mounted bird collections are still popular within the hunting community, skins of birds are brought in underhand from various countries, and then claimed to have been taken in Malta to fetch a higher price. They are brought in mainly by some hunters who go on hunting trips abroad. “Speedboat hunters” and fishermen, some of whom take guns out with them, are also known to bring in rare seabirds from miles and miles outside the Maltese territorial waters. Unfortunately several records of vagrants, including ‘firsts’ for Malta, have appeared in literature without any assessment or any shred of evidence whatsoever that they have occurred in Malta (Attard Montalto, J. 2010. National Rarities Committee – Malta 1st report. Il-Merill 32: 47-54).


this is a really sad situation,could the much reduced number of wintering birds be the problem,possibly they are being attacked by other raptors such as Peregrine and Marsh Harrier

Łukasz Ławicki

Similarly, in Germany (first breeding record):
In Poland in 2011 the record breeding season – ca 143 nests in 4 sites (first breeding record in Poland was in 1997).
Expansion of this species in the last 10 years in western and central Europe (both breeding and non-breeding population) runs at an amazing pace!

Nigel Middleton

malcom i can understand your feelings about this , i have been monitoring hen harriers at roost in eastern england for more than 20years and heavily involved with HHWRS (hen harrier winter roost survey). Although there is interaction at the roost sites in the winter between Hen and Marsh harriers this is not the reason for the decline it is outright PERSECUTION of hen harriers at there roost sites. Lets not start a campaign about raptors killing other raptors as this will fog over the true story human interference!

Eunice Parker

I just cannot believe I am reading this! We have watched for years and only now are buzzards making a come back in our part of Yorkshire. Surely this must be against the law? What can we do to help stop this please?

Myk Pudlo-Umney

I’m a nobody, but I am so angry by this. Please let me help with any action taken. Ridiculous doesn’t come close. Would they consider a request to rehome gamekeepers, and maybe blow their homes up because they interfere with the birds I want to shoot using my camera? It’d be interesting to find out if any and which MPs own shoots, or land used for them. Ridiculous, awful, hideous. A truly medieval idea for the modern age.

Michael Eddy

an outrageous proposal. Once again the coalition (ie, conservatives) are creating policy based on rural myths and on the say so of a few of their wealthy friends – the badger cull for another example; this cannot be allowed to happen!!

Julie Crompton

I am speechless….but let me get this right. Defra want to get rid of the buzzards who are eating the pheasants so people can shoot the pheasants! You will be telling us next that you want to get rid of the owls because they are eating the mice and cats are not happy!

Beverley Beaumont

Absolutely outrageous, we need more people to be aware that this isactually happening in England, I’m sure there would be a huge public outcry. We are finally just beginning to see Buzzards occasionally in our area (Yorkshire). Diabolical.

Chris Welton

Just amazing ! For DEFRA and BUZZARDS one could easily substitute IDS and DISABLED and maintain the same sense of outrage.

Anita Hoener

This is totally wrong. No native British bird, particularly one that has been persecuted before and is just recovering, should be sacrificed to commercial interests like this. It is an utter disgrace and should NOT be even considered, much less put into action at the taxpayers’ expense!

Leon smith

Absolute joke ! I love birds of prey and this is outrageous ! The idiots who dream these things up are the ones that need culling !

Ian Oag

This is unbelievable. What next? the destruction of any vehicle that runs a Pheasant over? Haven’t these Defra people got anything better and more worthwhile to spend their money on?


SO wrong on SO many levels. This is what is wrong with this world. It’s all about property, just like a person can get a lesser sentence for murder than embezzlement or robbery. The buzzards have only just recovered and now big man he want go bang bang. Grrrrr!


For goodness sake! Why not just rear a few more bloody pheasants, do the buzzards a favour at the same time as pandering to the idiots who like to shoot tame birds that are hardly worth eating. Where I live you have to swerve all over the road to avoid killing the damn things.

Anne Wilkinson

It is so sad to go up the Bowland valleys these days and see no Hen harriers. The reasons for the frightening decline are in my opinion – persecution on shooting estates, disturbance since the right to roam and predators including Eagle owls. All of these problems could be resolved.

Brian Derbyshire

Surprisingly I would say LSW commoner now in Chorley (Lancashire) area that in past. Several sightings this year – in past, say 1980-2000 very rare – interesting?

John Reever

This picture and comment brought back an old memory. As a boy, working on a farm we would watch the swallows all the time. One year all the fledglings came out and were flying. We noticed all of them started dive-bombing and going after one bird. It was an albino swallow. That was one of the saddest things I’ve ever seen and that memory has always stuck with me.

Elliott Woodbury

Where and what cost [in USD] can I buy Newton’s book #M20527 “BIRD MIGRATION” in soft cover, preferably in USA ?


Many of the landowners who release these geographically challenged birds should understand that they are an alien species not suited to our habitats in the UK . Not many cars or predatory tweed jackets in the jungles of India !


Surely a better question would be is modern farming doing enough to help British birds? Hope Farm and the RSPB have proved that modern farm management techniques can have a real positive impact but are enough farmers willing to use them?

Natalino fenech

This review shows that the author knows very little what he is speaking about. Things have changed a lot in Malta. There are still illegalities of course, as there are in all countries, even in most advanced ones. But its it not true that punishments in Malta are inadequate. they used to be but it’s like that no more. We had people jailed for trying to shoot a white stork, a third time offender was recently fined 16,000 Euros and his hunting licence confiscated for life. His first offence was being in possession of a grey heron, his last was shooting a cormorant at sea in the closed season…. What we need are actually more European birders visiting to continue to help push the change.., and a different way of solving old problems as the old tactics don’t seem to be working anymore. we need to weed out law breaking hunters which are even condemned by the hunting associations these days… something that did not happen a mere 10 years ago!

Bernie Thornton

Network rail removed some trees from embankments near my local station. They have not planted any new vegetation, so the area looks barren and sterile. I did not realise that it was part of a nationwide tree removal exercise.

If Network Rail have been cutting down trees willy nilly during nesting season then they should be prosecuted. On top of that, as a major landowner they should actively work to protect the diminishing wildlife habitats that we have in this country.


I find this totally disgusting that they are allowed to break the law, and
whoever gives the orders is still in charged and not prosecuted.
They get away with far to much and it is about time these people were heavily reprimanded and removed.

John Lynch

If the OSTs have the bulk of the biodiversity and the problems, why do the RSPB policies , marketing and expenditure centre on mainland uk ? Surely a realignment of policy is required to encompass the responsibilities of the organisation towards OST. It is not just a government issue!


I have petitioned before about this and cannot believe it is still going on.
Where is the Zero tolerance, who are the
people that are allowing this.


I was under the impression at least one pair of Golden Orioles bred at Lakenheath Fen Suffolk in 2010? Please correct me if I am wrong.

Mark Holling

The information presented in the report is the full detail made available to RBBP by both RSPB and the Golden Oriole Group. Although there were up to 3 birds present at Lakenheath, there was no firm evidence that a breeding attempt, beyond nest-building, was made.

John Stewart-Smith

I have followed the ongoing discussion about age and loss of hearing. I’m obviously one of the lucky 80 year old bird watchers as, despite spending over 30 years flying jet aircraft, I can still hear Goldcrests quite clearly. I admit that the bats in our loft seem to have recently stopped transmitting as they hunt around our garden. I can see these bats quite clearly but how would I know that I couldn’t hear a Goldcrest if I didn’t see it? Some bird watchers do not realise that hearing is often the primary tool for spotting and recognising birds. My partner’s sister is as deaf as a post but usually keeps her hearing aid in her handbag. On one of our many visits to Islay we stopped to listen to a Corncrake close by. She looked about, confused. “It’s a corncrake” was the helpful comment from one of our group. “Oh, but I don’t like cornflakes” she replied. Hearing loss can be fun for some of us!

South Korean birds threatened | Dear Kitty. Some blog

[…] It has long been know that the Yellow Sea is of exceptional importance to waders that use the East Asia–Australasian Flyway, particularly on their northward migration. The completion of the gargantuan Saemangeum Barrage in South Korea in 2006 (which, in terms of scale, is not much different from sealing off The Wash where it meets the North Sea!) has almost certainly led to the loss of tens of thousands of Great Knots Calidris tenuirostris, and is likely to have had a serious effect on the populations of a number of other wader species: here. […]

Jim West

It’s sad that this is going on in Barbados. And even worst, but not surprising that it was never a big news item. I only knew about it because this year, 2012, I set about photographing the birds of Barbados. I’m a person in my mid thirties; live all of my life in Barbados, I follow the current events and never knew Barbados had a hunting season until reading it online. I think the action to take is to expose it to the Barbadian Public and let them put pressure on the Government.

Robin Arundale

Will add future observations to the form. I have heard daylight hooting by Tawny Owls more than once. My most recent observation was from my own garden (SE961553) at around mid-day on a day of bright sunshine within the last month or so (sorry, I can’t be more accurate). I’m in a small rural hamlet surrounded by mainly arable land with a couple of woods and a farm shelter belt all within a mile. Tawny calls and song are regularly heard with some sightings (after dark) in my own garden.

Martin Woodcock

Calls are heard quite often in our garden in daylight. The owls nest in our shelter belt, with both deciduous and coniferous trees. We live in north Norfolk Grid ref 028415. I will send in new details, but I heard a call yesterday at 1715,when it was fine and calm, but cool.

Evelyn Gajowski

Now is the time for all partner agencies to work together to punish the unacceptable and unethical practice of killing of birds of prey. The fact that only one pair of one species — the hen harrier — bred in 2012 provides an alarm for dealing with this problem. We simply cananot allow the same thing occur in other species. We must do everything in our power to educate the public about the intrinsic value of birds of prey, as well as preserving them and protecting them.


I agree we need tougher laws. Bring back corporal punishment. We have gone too soft on criminals the last few years. There ought to be a referendum for the general public to say what they think. Our MP’s are too soft to do anything.

Andie Timms

I strongly believe we are sitting on a time bomb; that if the courts, police, and the gamekeepers do not start playing by the rules that we the people believe are just; then it will not be long before a member of the public will be killed. The greater access to the countryside that is coming about on a greater scale than in the past it is inevitable it will happen. I have heard the stories that dogs have picked up poisoned birds, I wonder how many of them suffered unnecessarily. As I said it is a time bomb waiting to happen.


There are at least 4 chaffinch feeding on my bird table this afternoon. We are in S E Wales with cold winds and a slight drizzle. I must say they are a beautiful sight.

Stuart poole


Colin Whittle

I am currently involved in the research necessary to produce a ‘Review of Buzzard Research Publications’ for my local Cumbria Bird Club and the County Natural History Transactions. I have been a Buzzard enthusiast all my life and in the course of my research have been involved in an ongoing email correpondence with Dr Peter Dare who has been most helpful.. I very much admired your 2009 BB article on the social behaviour of Buzzards and would be glad to hear of any other work you have had published in the journals. I only know of your 1997 article in the BBC Wildlife publication. I hope I may look forward to hearing from you as from one Buzzard enthusiast to another!


You Katie, it just struck me when lonkiog at your pic for the link from ABC to here how much you and Anne Hope look alike. Anyhoo, just letting you know I gave an award on my blog. But I’m still working on the post so don’t rush over to see it!

M Trew

Perhaps if the EU spent less money on there own self glorification they would be able to afford to provide funds for wildlife conservation; only this week they spent £15 million on a jolly to receive the Nobel Prize from the Norwegians and probably a suspect award with regard its provenece.

Victor Gordon

Wonderful news. I’m a journalist and stopped in Ascension en route to the Falklands in 1983. I once saw a documentary re the feral cats and l congratulate all concerned in eradicating them. VG.

Guillam McIvor

I observed a male blackbird in a similar position last year in a garden in St Andrews, Scotland. It remained attached to a branch by a single foot for weeks on end.

Jonathan Lethbridge

Until the fines are actually meaningful, or proper deterrent sentences passed, it won’t stop. Net cost to the public on this must be thousands, and the fine is two grand? A pathetic waste of time.

Peter Cosgrove

I have seen numerous poisoned raptors in Scotland over the years and one common feature is that is that many of them died in spasm with their feet clamped tightly shut. I have seen this with carbofuran victims, but it might also be the case for other poisons such as strychnine.

Louis Pigott

Do you have in stock a copy of “John Latham, surgeon, ornithologist and antiquary” by Mary Howard (Matador)? If so I would like to have it.

Robin Copeland

That is great news!
Of course more would be very useful/ nice as these horrific crimes are on the increase- but at lease the great fight against the birds by this terrific unit can go on.
Thanks to them for all they do

Robin Copeland

Apologies- my last comment should have read “the great crimes against THE CRIMES DONE TO the birds”

Can it be amended please?

Dominic Mitchell

A small point but one worth mentioning: the observer’s name is Marcel Gil Velasco, and the sighting should be attributed to him. Jim Morrison’s name relates to the quote used on the original blog post.


if it wasnt for the spotted crake survey we would probably be unaware . maybe these numbers in england in breeding season is not unusual

cameron bespolka

Agree with global warming and declining in lots of bird populations, we must try to twitch less. To twitch occasionally is fine, I twitch occasionally. People should find there own patches and bird there a lot-you can keep lists and all that stuff but save driving and you also save on petrel costs.


I agree. They do both deserve medals. It’s something that very few of us will ever achieve. And therefore very few of us will ever produce the amount of CO2 or Mr Lucus seems to be under the impression was produced by the endeavour. Or cause the amount of damage he is under the impression was caused.

We are all afraid of Global Warming and the impact it is, will have. But we should also keep it in perspective. Creating an atmosphere of fear which leads to people being afraid to do anything will achieve nothing. If anything it will lead to people feeling alienated and hostile to legitimate campaigns.

I will of course refrain from questioning the motives for the letter.

Gavin Haig

It would depress me greatly if all the frivolity was sucked out of birding by various po-faced lobbyists. I imagine that serious world-listers, for example, are relatively few and relatively wealthy, and their destructive trail across the skies is perhaps offset at least a little by contributions to tourist economies. Concerning BB coverage of this topic, inclusion of the quote from Jon Hornbuckle’s correspondance underlines the triviality of it all and the publication’s acknowledgement of same.

Bob Jarman

I have been looking at House Sparrow distribution in Cambridge; its tempting to agree with Mark Watterson’s statement but there is no evidence to support Mark’s assertion, certainly in Cambridge. In Cambridge its industrialised landscapes and working class housing estates that hold house sparrows; lush middle class areas with big suburban gardens, no vulgar decking or patios, have no sparrows!

Derek Moore

True birders just enjoy seeing birds and that includes new birds. I normally travel once a year to see birds I have never encountered before. It gives me great pleasure. I photograph the birds and I write about the birds.

My lists are modest compared with Messrs Hornbuckle and Gullick but I still enjoy my right to go and see what birds I can.

What I do not need is a self righteous person judging my actions. He takes his decisions and I take mine. In my lifetime I have made a major contribution to the conservation of birds and now I reserve the right to enjoy them.

Tim Allwood

On the face of it, it’s difficult to justify anymore. I did a lot myself until a few years ago. Now I don’t. But I might at some point when my daughter is older. Can we have a go at every other thing that’s causing bird declines and environmental degradation if we pursue what is essentially a rich man’s sport that heavily utilises one of the main contributors to CO2 concentration in the atmosphere in this day and age? How can I as someone who has done it, justify saying to others that they really ought to think twice?

I used to rationalise it myself and still do. It’s difficult not to go and see the Tibetan Plateau, Peruvian cloud forests or the legendary hill forests of NE India for some seemingly abstract idea about it being the good of the planet. Seeing your actions in the cold hard light of day and being honest with yourself is one of the hardest things to do. Just saying be damned with it – I’m only here once, I’ll do it because I want to and I enjoy it – is at least honest and I can respect that. I might even do that myself but I won’t be under any misapprehension about what I’m doing. And I’d be lying if I said I wouldn’t have got a massive kick out of going to see that Baer’s Pochard in Japan as Alan Lewis did – that must have been amazing. I did twitch Steller’s in Lithuania thanks to the amazing Mr Stratford so I’ve little room to talk anyway.

So, I don’t really see Jon Hornbuckle and co as a ‘problem’ – it’s the rest of ‘us’ going places in larger numbers for short breaks, getting in the car at the drop of a hat, driving all over the country at the weekend and pretending that it’s not us, it’s those world listers…even our general lifestyle with its massive overconsumption is probably much more harmful in the greater scheme of things. Maybe if more people actually went to these exotic spots they might be less inclined to travel where the birds are every weekend – this does seem to be the case – and the overall impact would actually decline?

Maybe the steady rise of local patching will see a fundamental change in the way we enjoy our birding. I know I hardly ever leave the 10km square now…but then it’s coastal Norfolk and not central Birmingham. Don’t deny yourself some of the amazing experiences that are out there but maybe grow some more of your own food, don’t twitch so many things you’ve already seen and get on the bike now and again. The Tibetan Plateau really is something to see – even if there’s no sandgrouse on the top of it… happy-ish memories!

God, that sounds terribly even-handed. Something must be wrong.

John Walshe

A lot of these 9k wont be there in another 10/20 years unless someone goes to see them and convinces their guardians that there’s some economic benefit in saving their habitats. Measure that against the so-called damage to the environment.

Anita McCullough

Yes, I can hear it – just. You don’t mean song though – do you? What I am hearing is more of a contented tweeping contact call. I can’t say I have ever hear ‘song’ as such. I learnt to recognise their sound some five years ago when they started visiting a larch in my garden. Still visiting – the odd one or two. Even from the beginning I felt I had to ‘tune in’ though.

I am nearly 54 and female. Living in London E11.

I am going to ask my 63 year-old husband for his experience too.


Sally Hardy

Given the lethal effect on sea birds in the recent incident and those in the past I believe this substance should be reclassified to reflect the dangers to sea birds and any other marine life that is adversely affected when this substance mixes with sea water. The reclassification to also be one that imposes the strictest possible restrictions regarding the quantity and quality of discharge into the marine environment

Carole Davis

I have just had a pair of coal tits on my bird feeder here in Hambledon Godalming Surrey,never seen them before on my bird feeder,a lot of bluetits visit the bird feeder and nut hatches.

Martin Davey

I would concur with Mike Clarke’s view but, would add that Natural England has never been as independent as English Nature was, and EN was not as independent as the NCC. We all know what happened in the late 1980s/early 1990s which led to the demise of the Nature Conservancy Council over the Flow Country debacle in Scotland. Whilst NE currently remains an NDPB, one requirement of it’s creation is that it ‘gives due regard and heed’ to guidance from the SOS for Environment. English Nature was spared that. Successive Governments have always wanted to rein EN/ NE in. If a merger between the EA and NE happens, the new organisation will have a direct ministerial lead via DEFRA. It will become more of a ministerial puppet than it is now. The future of nature conservation in England now falls to the NGOs – as it has done since 2006 (when NE was created). NE (in my opinion) is now little more than a grant aiding body. The expertise and knowledge base that EN once benefited from in many disciplines of nature conservation has been irrevocably eroded – with the exception of marine conservation – NE really have excelled on that in recent years. In 2010, it was mooted that National Nature Reserves should be sold off. If the EA and NE merge, I will guarantee that the same question will be asked again by Government – maybe it might happen next time! Merging with the Forestry Commission will be next on the agenda, if the discussions have not already started in Westminster…….My views (whilst my own) are not simply those of an observer; I worked for EN and then NE, for 20 years as a Senior Reserve Manager of National Nature Reserves leaving in Feb 2011.

Hero Joy Nightingale

o such beautiful song this morning, loud and clear in spite of traffic noise, but it was very close by, first about 30 feet, then 15-20, and very continuous compared to the recordings I’ve heard on the web. I’m 26 and female, and for what it’s worth mightily disabled physically but rather hypersensitive to sound. My mother aged 58, pushing my wheelchair, stopped abruptly because she heard it. We both also hear the quieter calls as a handful flitter through the garden trees occasionally.

Cathy Burke

I saw a Goldcrest for the first time on my feeder in my Derbyshire garden the other day. Such a sweet strikingly coloured little bird. I remember your wonderful contribution to The Guardian’s The School I’d Like competition in 2001. Hope you are well and happy.

colin bradshaw

Aged 59 on Sunday. Call yes if the bird is close. – Song not a chance.

Playing bass or electric guitar in bands since 18 probably hasn’t helped!

Peter Hellyer

Male, 65

I haven’t been able to hear them since I was 60, at least – not that there’s much opportunity in Abu Dhabi! Probably not for years before that. I haven’t been able to hear scrub Warblers for over ten years.

Time I got a hearing aid !

William Brock

I am 78 (male) and I can hear Goldcrests clearly. My brother Archie is 74 and has difficulty in hearing them except at close range (maybe about 4/5 metres).

John Tucker

I should hope so at your age; you should be OK for at least four decades yet. Many thanks. Responses now 205 but I would like more – do pass on the request. John

Pia Ashton

The link between diclofenic and death by myocardial infarction will hopefully reach India and reduce its availablity to humans and and vultures alike

Mick Cunningham

male 56 – heading for 57.

can hear call and song. I’ll be very interested in the results.

Some queries…

how do I ‘police a negative’ as someone who birds alone a lot? I might be missing some calls that are farther away or not so loud.

Am also wondering whether even when I can still hear some calls, can I separate them as easily from other family members as I used to eg I seem to have to concentrate more to separate out common finch calls.

Sight – a whole other problematic ball game fr over 40s!


What a wonderfully heart-warming story.

A story that deserves to be told and told.

No matter how well-organised, well-developed, and well-funded a country’s bird conservation establishment may seemingly be, it is built on sand if that country’s children don’t care.

As Richard says, books inspire children (particularly the children whose families are too poor to have but a few of them in the house).

It would be great if the World Bank has enough money in its coffers to take Mark Brazil’s excellent Birds of East Asia, and tailor it for the mass population areas of China as “The Birds of eastern China”.

The mainland China areas it covers have a combined population of more than half a billion people (527 million):

Beijing (19.6 million), Tianjin (12.9 million), Inner Mongolia (24.7 million), Heilongjiang (38.3 million), Jilin (27.5 million), Liaoning (43.7 million), Hebei (71.9 million), Shandong (95.8 million), Jiangsu (78.7 million), Zhejiang (54.4 million), Fuijian (36.9 million) and Shanghai (23 million).

Imagine what a difference a heavily-subsidised Chinese-language Birds of eastern China would make to the kids of those areas, and what a difference that would make to the countless numbers of birds that breed in and migrate across the region.

Many thanks to Richard Porter for inspiring me to think of this.

That’s the power of great storytelling.

Best regards from Beijing.


david lumb

I record all species for County Recorders (Lancs & Greater Manchester) & BTO surveys relying heavily on birdsong. I am 58 now and having no problem identifying Goldcrests etc, luckily still able to pick up all calls whatever the pitch.

cold call email introduction

Very good website you have here but I was curious about if you knew of any
message boards that cover the same topics talked about here?
I’d really love to be a part of group where I can get responses from other experienced people that share the same interest. If you have any suggestions, please let me know. Kudos!

Andre Farrar

Male, 56 and yes (tested as recently as yesterday) – I do worry about gropper though. An elderly warden once told me he didn’t realise he couldn’t hear them until he was walking along with plank on his shoulder resting against his ear, the sounding board effect!

I don’t recommend this as a survey technique though!

Mr P Antrobus

As a core majority of the MP’s involved in this government are associated with land ownership of grouse moors and the like, it is obvious nothing will be done to protect the wholesale slaughter of our upland wildlife.
MP’s who employ game keepers to eradicate Goshawks and Hen Harriers should be named and shamed and then prosecuted, oh that’s right they can’t be cos the law sucks!

pete ashmore

we have a flock of waxwings in walkley sheffield here today about 60 in total but they have not a lot to feed on si i dont think we will be staying march 23rd


I am proud to see our project here, we enjoyed it very much. Those students were very cute, happy and excited. For me this project one of the best things I have done in my life, because we saw that the students and the teachers appreciated what we did for them


Congratulations to everyone who has worked on this project.

What a wonderful change from the daily diet of bad news stories from Iraq.

This is a brilliant initiative – not least because the kids who are taking part will feel that they can make a difference to the world around them.

The excitement of watching a young bird leave “their” box for the first time will be something that just has to be shared with others.

The word of mouth (and e-word spread by social-networking) this generates will in turn inspire many more young people in Iraq to believe that they, too, can make a difference.

The “live action from the nest box” idea is great because it would make the virtuous circle (word-of-mouth = action = word-of-mouth = …) grow ever bigger.

Best regards from Beijing



Peter makes an important point, any proposal to erect wind turbines across the flat marshlands of southern Sheppey should be strongly opposed.
These marshes attract such a wide range of both breeding and visiting raptors that a joint venture between the RSPB and a local farmer has seen the opening of a Raptor Viewing Mound and small car park at Harty marshes there. At the same time the marshes also attract large flocks of wintering wildfowl, both they and the raptors would see their safety compromised by the erection of any wind turbines into the area.

Andrew Willimas

While doing some conservation work at the BBOWT Reserve at Bix Bottom (Warburg), heard two tawny owls calling on 19th March, about 2pm for 20-30 mins. In mixed deciduous woodland. Chilterns. Weather was cold but sunny. AW

Peter Woodruff.

This is new to me – being from the north of the country – though that’s not supposed to sound like an excuse for not knowing about this plan. But I do hope to find out more about the proposals. Meanwhile I hope everyone has noted the comments by Peter Oliver & Derek Faulkner.

Bert Zijlstra

I live up north of Holland. It’s the same situation here. Meadow-birds like lapwings and godwits have trouble to stay in breeding condition because off the frozen meadows. It also very dry and worms are hard too pick up for the birds. Hope tempature will rise and that it will start raining soon. In the villages some birds are singing but nestingactivities are prosponed.

Philip S. Redman

The situation has been the same here in the Paris region (Ile-de-France. Last week the reeds around the lakes were full of Chiffchaffs (reminded me of an observatory on a very good arrival day) but the bushes and trees held very few. Blackcaps are few, likewise other early passerine migrants and, although I am hard of hearing, there is very little song. Charles, my local Blackbird in the heart of the city, appeared for a chirp yesterday evening for the first time.
To think I heard and saw a Cuckoo on 20 March last year!
For those who do not know of the web site go to which is in English and you can then follow what is happening daily from Spain to Germany.

Conor Jameson

Thanks John – interesting observations.

The recent mortality of so many puffins and other seabirds along the east coast is eye-catching, if indeed it is due to unseasonal weather. You would think seabirds such as these would be among the most resilient and adaptable to unusual weather events – although it seems the pre-breeding moult may have limited the birds’ mobility.

Conor Jameson

John Tucker


I now have close to 650 replies and the request has yet to appear in BTO News next month. All replies still welcome and I’ll write the summary in June.
Responses should please come to me direct at:
[email protected]

Thank you.


Mudhafar Salim

I hope Nature Iraq can do a similar nest box project in southern marshes Iraq. May be building platforms in the marshes for herons to nest. Mudhafar Salim, head of NI bird team.

Tom Cadwallender

A Tawny Owl was calling from the churchyard in Lesbury, Northumberland NU23687 11717, today 06 April 2013 at approximately 10am. The weather was bright sunshine.

John Eyre

Found first Woodlark nest today, approximately three weeks later than usual. Nest completed but no eggs as yet. Also several pairs of Stonechats have arrived in past couple of days but most territories are still unoccupied.


what it do?, from Hidden Hills, California I want to say, I enjoyed this blog. However, it is weird how I ended up on your post. I searched for party bus pittsburgh on YouTube and ended up on your website. I must say I do like your site and will check back soon. But I need to find the limo I was originally looking for first. Have a fantastic day! so long.


The bodies of eight stone curlews have been found in fields in Norfolk, Suffolk and Wiltshire in the past few days. The birds are believed to have returned from their wintering grounds in Africa and Spain and struggled to find enough food to survive. The bodies weighed around 300g, compared to a healthy weight of 450g.

Phil Woollen

I was sad to hear of Dr Derek Yalden’s recent death at a relatively young age. I was at Manchester University in the late 70’s and early 80’s and Derek taught me vertebrate palaeontology and later become my third year project supervisor when I undertook a colour ringing study into the flock behaviour of tits.

Derek’s knowledge of the Peak District was phenomenal and I remember accompanying him on survey trips for breeding waders (and Wallabies!) at a pace that left the average undergraduate far behind in his wake. Derek also took car full’s of students to the BTO conference at Swanwick.

Although I hadn’t seen him since graduating in 1982 I had the pleasure of making his acquaintance once more, a year or so ago, when I was on Hilbre Island (Cheshire) as a member of the Bird Observatory ringing migrant passerines. This well dressed gentlemen came over to my Landover and enquired about the seals for which the Island is locally famous. As soon as he spoke I recognised his voice and after a bit of gentle questioning he remembered me. He’d walked over with Pat & their dog to see the seals on his birthday and came back to the Observatory with me and joined the rest of the small team for a brew and a natter. We even managed to catch a Wheatear and show him it in the hand.

Declining a lift off he said he’d walk and give the dog some exercise! The last communication I had with him after that was by email as he requested a copy of the latest Observatory report as a pdf file.

His enthusiasm was infectious and I’m sure there are plenty of Under graduates who studied Biology or Zoology at Manchester University who have fond memories of this true gentleman.


i work on the oil rigs off aberdeen and we have just had about 20 chaffinchs ariving and feeding from the rubbish skip we have and we have about 10 robins as well.. beautifull sight makes working in this harsh north sea a bit better ..but unfortunatlly those beautifull small birds never survive …


My husband and I have been hearing a tawny owl calling on and off all day (April 13th 2013) in the nearby beechwood (a few miles from the Slad valley near Stroud) between the hours of 10.30am to 5pm. Hearing a tawny owl during the daytime is a first for us both.

John Whitbread

Believe that an Icterine warbler has nested in a small lelandii tree in my step fathers garden in Wooton Underwood, Buckinghamshire. Observed taking food into young a number of times this morning Sunday 21st April 2013.

Marion Harris

I am seriously concerned about the plight of the birds suffering as a result of the dumping of chemicals at sea. It is simply heartbreaking
and must stop.

Jonn Mero

At 67 I can hear the Goldcreast clearly. Interesting as I also took a pitch test, and found that I can hear up to and included 12 kHz.
Maybe regularly keeping the ear wax at bay has anything to do with it?

Roger Riddington

Hi Don

The two links in the last paragraph of the news item will take you to the respective online petitions.


Chris Greenfield

I have for days been watching a pair of janowski’s buntings at the rear of my flat as we are surrounded by woods not knowing what they where so google’d british bird pics and came across the picture of the birds i have been seeing they are very fast on the wing and flit from branch to branch eating the bits i put out for the birds ie nuts, seeds and fatballs as we have squirrels raiding nests so have been trying to help out,But these two seem very far from home and don’t seem to know what to do in the mild weather we are having they are staying very close to the large tree’s at the back of our flat,if i get a chance i will photograph them and post it on BBRC if iam able for confirmation thanks

Andrew Mossop

A Tawny Owl heard calling twice at 1735hrs from mixed woodland though predominantly yew on Manderston Estate, Duns, Scot Borders on 1/5/2013. The weather was sunny and dry.


I moved to Aberporth Wale, can hear a Tawny Owl between 10ish and 12ish, sometime 4ish and 5ish, in early spring and Autumn. I have not seen the Tawny, do not feel that call is due to Owl being disturbed.

Dr Lewis Moncrieff

Many of the neonicotinamides are packaged as nano-particles.

These are the same size as pollen and the bees collect them, and deliver these pesticide to the hive brood ,as their protien food.

These them disrupt food source navigation, and hive location memory. This leads to slow colony colapse.

Dr Lewis Moncrieff


On Isle of Lewis some years ago a Skylark landed under my feet in order to avoid a Merlin. The Merlin was almost as bold as it flew around us a few times before flying off. Apparently this behaviour is not uncommon as Falconers observed this frequently, when hunting Skylark with Merlin.

tony phillips

Let’s hope the RSPB are more successful protecting these harriers than they were in protecting England’s hen harriers. Where are they now?

willie thom

I read on the website that licenses were issued on evidence provided by a gamekeeper,how stupid could they be to trust a member of a profession that hates all raptors and would take us back to the dark ages
we should all boycott any restaurant selling game


I heard a tawny owl calling around midday today, 11/06/13, in Nether Wallop, Hampshire. I was indoors so obviously I hadn’t disturbed it. It called on and off for about an hour. It was cloudy with light rain.
I also saw and disturbed a tawny owl during the day, sitting in a tree in the garden of a cottage we stayed in, about a mile or so from the foot of Mount Snowdon. The weather was warm and sunny. The owl looked me in the eye for a few moments and then flew to another tree.

Paul Dunham

No licences should be allowed at all.. The hunting fraternity should breed and release more birds to allow for predation from predators.. It’s an exchange, a legitimate cost the hunting establishment should pay to pursue what is a leisurely non-essential pursuit.. Wiping out the local wildlife to simply to kill animals for pleasure is abhorrent.

kathy bond

FEMALE,AND 69 AND A HALF,have just heard the sound in a very tall birch tree in my garden,Broadway, in the Cotswolds.They don’t seem to be around, all of the time though,maybe they’re passing through

Charlie Annalls

Saw a baby woodpecker on the suet block in my garden today. I had two adults feeding from Christmas 2012 and thrilled to see a baby. Not seen a great spotted anywhere before so exciting times in my garden. I live in Portsmouth but close to some natural woodland in the north of the island.I guess they have “migrated” from there? I have had lots of young starling of late so it was good to see the young woodpecker muscle his way in! Shame I wasn’t fast enough with the Nikon……

pam mcnaughton

A tawny owl flew into my garden two days ago 21/06/2013 about 11.00am. the nearby nesting blackbirds were going crazy. Flew off when before i could take a photo. Never heard them calling in daytime though. Near Goonhavern Cornwall.

John Aitchison

Matt Wilson, a very good observer who lives in Morvern, Argyll, tells me he has several times seen day-hunting barn owls killed by buzzards. In general the owls do not hunt much in daylight in the west of Scotland, presumably for this reason. Pale plumage and slow flight facing the ground must make them especially vulnerable.

Lynne Carter

My cat has, unfortunately killed a young turtle dove, this was found in my garden in Leigh-on-Sea Essex. We have large trees at the bottom of the garden but no farmland nearby. Just to let you know.

Michael May

I find it brilliant that there are people in the world prepared to put something back into the wild. Well done!


I’ve heard a tawny owl calling all through the day today. Previously I have only heard it at night but today it was very noticeable.


Heard tawny owls hooting many times, whilst walking in Felbrigg Woods, Norfolk, during daylight hours, whether sunny or cloudy. They are vocal at night too, of course.

Conor Jameson

Note from the author: Looking for the Goshawk describes events over a period of years. The facts emerge in the order in which I unearthed them, following this chronology. In case the reader of the above review takes it that I don’t encounter the Goshawk in the course of this search, I’d like to make clear that I and others do, in many places. Encounters with the bird are described (often in great detail) from around a dozen locations in the UK and abroad. Where I don’t find the bird I usually find evidence, and if not I never regard this as failure. Ultimately, the point of the book is not me seeing Goshawks, but us finding out more about them and why they have been so widely overlooked, in every sense.

There is quite a bit of material in this book that has not be well or widely understood about Goshawks and has not been brought together in one place before. For this I am indebted to the field researchers who have shared their knowledge and findings so openly and generously. I propose some theories that I would be delighted for others to explore in more detail. For even more hard facts and data on the species I would recommend Robert Kenward’s The Goshawk (Poyser, 2005).

Finally, and above all, the above review doesn’t give away the outcome of the narrative, although it may be read that way.

Many thanks.


John Burton

Thanks this is great news. And while not a bird, we got the first camera trap picture of a leopard (only its tail) from our partners last week. All this (and more) on the World Land Trust website

Andy Hurley

These guys are bringing awareness of what is out there to all of us. I don’t think they are travelling the world in private jets, so the carbon foot print lobbyists or whatever band wagon they’re jumping on, can take a running jump, the aircraft are flying anyway. They are potentially increasing eco-tourism in critical areas of the world where among other things, large scale deforestation occurs. If more people can rely on this kind of tourism for a living, surely it is in the interest of the host countries to conserve such areas where wildlife occurs and educate their own population in renewable forms of eco tourism etc.. In the end, its a win win situation

David Brewer

Perhaps all sides to this debate could be satisfied if the prizes and greatest honours went to those who have seen the FEWEST birds. To start the ball rolling, I’d like to offer my Brazilian list; three species. A few years ago I was in Iguazu, Argentina, and attempted to drive across to the Brazilian side; alas, I didn’t have some piece of paper for the hire-car and was turned back. During this process I saw a Southern Lapwing, a Tropical Kingbird and some seed-eater or other.
Then my Prince Edward Island list; one. While changing planes at Charlottetown airport I saw a House Sparrow……
Finally, surely a championship effort, my Utah list. Four States (AZ, NM, CO and Utah) meet at one point, called the Four Corners and marked by a small monument. Arriving from the Arizona side, I walked around this object for a couple of minutes, thereby visiting Utah at least five times. During this process I saw no birds at all, thereby establishing what surely must be a World Record for twitchers.
Think; if this caught on, nobody would have to go rushing off on jet-liners to the four corners of the globe…..

Paul Brown

as a lover of birds and a falconer I would always check the birds keel bone before jumping to conclusions in a case like this, a first year bird in a hard winter has a tough time, a very sharp keel bone suggests a lengthy period of hunger. However, no conclusion could or should be drawn from a photograph like this.

Andy Hale

Surely your efforts would be better employed stopping the slaughter within EU countries, which is against the EU wildlife laws

Christine Oakley

Very sad news indeed – I think the RSPB is correct – there should be a legal means of making landowners responsible for any actions taken against these birds…

People can help by caring enough to write letters to their MP’s and by distributing and sharing this article through their various social media connections…

Dave Webb

This is devastating news ….. last year I watched 2 pairs in south west England. This year I have only seen 1 female. This country needs to wake up and raise the protection status and methods for this and other species before its too late. I really hope that these stunning birds make it through. Maybe the RSPB should look at voluntary wardens to monitor the birds and any illegal activity?????? Just a thought!

D Woodcock

It may be a good idea to allow land owners to ban people from walking over their land if there are rare raptors likely to breed there.
This would give the land owners an incentive to care for the raptors and would save any possible breeding birds from disturbance by people roaming over the moors.
I live on the island of Burray in Orkney and we have Hen harriers over the house most days but then we do not have a lot of people wandering around off the roads and disturbing the birds.

Bryan Schofield

Is it possible that I may have seen this very same bird yesterday, 3 years on from the above sightings? I was playing golf at Goswick Links just up the coast from Anwick and one of my playing partners was telling me about seeing a white “swallow” type bird flying with other swallows when he was on the practice ground when lo and behold it flew past and then around us for 5 mins or so, darting and swooping allong at ground level with the other swallows. Do swallows return to the same area each year when visiting the UK?


Great Missenden Angling Spring Wood. Chilterns old deciduous woods mainly beech. Tawny owl calling regularly during daylight hours including morning, but regularly in afternoon from about 16.00 throughout summer. Also heard at first light in July.

Austin Thomas

Sincere thanks to British Birds, the panel of judges and the visitors to Rutland Birdfair for selecting my Little Owl image as one of the shortlisted images in your competition.

It was an honour to see my image in print at Rutland Birdfair and I am humbled that it was selected as the People’s choice.

Thanks again,


Adrian Pitches

And the correct answer is… SNOW BUNTING.
Very well done Toby and Jason. This male bird was photographed by Tim Melling at Longyearbyen, Greenland.
Adrian Pitches, News and comment

Sue Parrott

Heard a tawny owl for about 20 minutes at 2pm calling from beech trees in Fetcham, Surrey. We are on the edge of green belt and farmland. It was a beautiful clear and unseasonably warm afternoon today 02/09/2013

Alan Bessant

Heard Tawny calling bright sunlight at 3.00pm and 5.45pm Brittany near St Malo France.Have heard them calling regularly at night since April.

Gerard Gorman

It is not unusual for Tawny Owls to call during the day, at least here in C & Europe. I have also heard, to varying extents, Scops, Tengmalm’s, Ural and Little Owls call during the day. Gerard Gorman, Hungary.

Bill Urwin

This has to be one of the best “brownfield” sites in the UK 🙂 A great example of multi-agency partnership work, long may it continue.

Seumus Eaves

I read with interest Ian’s piece and it was indeed thought provoking and interesting. I never really thought about putting a value on birds before as Ian talks about in his article. However, my personal objection to the issuing of a licence by Natural England to destroy Buzzard nests is more about the fact that a licence has been issued to control a native protected bird species to favour the commercial interests of a non-native species such as the Pheasant that is released with impunity. And I guess that a number of BB readers will feel the same. My objection to the killing of Buzzards isn’t based on that way that I value the species at all. I don’t intend to go in to the details of how many Pheasants are killed on the roads versus numbers taken by Buzzards as this has been covered umpteen times by the popular press. But I do feel that the shooting fraternity should be governed by the strict guidelines that conservation organisations are when it comes to releasing birds in to the wild. To my knowledge shooting estates don’t have to carry out any research into the potential impacts on native wildlife of the release of tens of thousands of Pheasants and I really do think that they should.

I really enjoy the ‘BB eye’ section and think it has been a great success. It certainly makes you think whilst having a cup of coffee in the morning!


Of course the counter argument to Seumus’s point is of course that without the pheasant shooting, there would be no reason for the cover crops, no hedges and very possibly no woodland breaking up the landscape of large arable fields that are heavily sprayed with pesticide – therefore no songbirds and no buzzards either. Its about the net gain surely? Of course, once upon a time we had a great many pure wild pheasant shoots – but many more gamekeepers and a much, much lower tolerance of predation of any form, again you could argue that pheasant release with an attendant tolerance for some, but not excessive losses provides a net gain for a great variety of bird species – certainly round my way the woodcock and snipe are in a much healthier way on the shooting estates than on the purely agricultural ones.

Richard Porter

May I add a personal comment on Ian Carter’s very thought-provoking BBeye ? Whilst it relates to collecting specimens it might be of interest and have some relevance to the wider debate.

I am opposed to any collecting (dead or alive!) and have never allowed it on any expeditions I have led, nor on any surveys I have organised. This applies not just to birds but all animals down to the smallest organism. Why do I have this view? Because most of my research, survey and conservation activities involves working with natives of the country concerned, I believe that collecting (=killing) sends out totally the wrong message. Very often meeting me, or one of my Western colleagues, is their first experience of ‘conservationists.’ I want to convey a view that ALL wildlife should be respected, and that I, as a conservationist, care for and respect ALL wildlife. It’s really as simple as that.
Once you have conveyed that message working with and influencing opinions and attitudes to wildlife conservation become much easier as there is no unnecessary junk in the way. Also with advances in digital photography and techniques for obtaining DNA such such collecting is somewhat redundant.


A very insightful piece that neatly illustrates one dichotomy facing the conservation world. I think ‘outbred’ has it right when he says above that it is all about ‘net gain’. Without habitat management, supplementary over-winter feeding and legal predator control by shooting interests our biodiversity would be less rich in many areas undoubtedly.
On the issue of over-release of pheasants, as I recall the GWCT issued some ‘best practice guidance’ that recommended maximum stocking densities/releasing figures and other pertinent advice on release procedures.
On the buzzard issue, it is a great shame that the Buzzard Stakeholder Group’s planned research programme into how best to manage buzzard-game bird conflicts was scuppered by the outrage whipped up by many who should have known better. As a result, we are no closer to knowing how best to mitigate such conflicts in the future, and we can be sure they will continue to occur. For example, if a farmer or game manager has exhausted all other options, and still sees no hope of ever being granted a licence to control a persistent predator of his livestock/reared game – especially one with a favourable conservation status – then frustration will inevitably follow and can often boil over into illegal killing, with results that we are all too depressingly familiar with. The recent SNH paper on managing species conflict in Scotland makes for a good read on the subject
Well done Ian for attempting to initiate an open and honest debate on the subject.

Robin Wilson

An excellent article. And you do need to consider whether the “welcome increase” in buzzards is that welcome for the blackbird, thrush and other birds that buzzards feed on. On the farm I live on, we had no buzzards when we moved in 20 years ago. We did have loads of small bids in the hedgerows all across the farm. The 7 buzzards we now have regularly above the farm eat according to the RSPB “eat small rodents, but also take birds, reptiles, amphibians, larger insects and earthworms” We have not changed farming practices, nor do we have gamebirds, but we now have very few blackbirds or thrushes – any link?

Pete Rowberry

I have the greatest respect for the historic contribution made by hunters and wildfowlers to the protection of the environment, and am not ignorant of the economic benefits to the rural economy of hunting. However, in an enlightened age such activities must only be pursued if they are sustainable, not just for the quarry, but the other species with which they share the ecosystem. We introduce between 15 and 20 million pheasants and partridges into rural areas every year. At the same time I am seeing a serious decline in many of our farmland and hedgerow birds, such as little owls, yellowhammers and grey partridges, which may be as a result of this overloading of the environment by introduced species.

By providing such a reservoir of captive bred birds and then blaming predators for taking advantage of this surfeit is perverse. I cannot agree that the culling of foxes is necessary to protect these game birds. Instead, why cannot we persuade hunters to concentrate on the control of species where over population and lack of predators mean that they are having serious impacts on native species, such as grey squirrel and muntjac deer, especially as these species are not native to the UK?

John Davies

Ian Carter is doubtless right that many (most?) of us are inconsistent about which birds we are prepared to allow to be culled. And no-one can deny that Buzzards are doing extremely well – 30 years ago one of the pleasures of a holiday on Mull was easy sighting of an otherwise scarce bird, whereas now they are regular over our suburban Edinburgh garden.
But the problem I, and I suspect many others, have with the recent licensed control is a little more specific than he suggests, and not really because Buzzards are large predators. Buzzards were killed to protect Pheasants solely for the purpose of having the latter available to be driven and then shot out of the sky in numbers by humans. Is this really sensible?

Ian M Spence

I read Ian’s article with interest but think he asked the wrong question. For me, the issue is not about comparing the ‘value’ of different species but the reason that is put forward for killing a species. So, killing buzzards to protect pheasants, reared in millions, seems to me to be obscene. Near me kestrels sometimes prey on little tern chicks, which are naturally raised in very small numbers (compared with pheasants) so I think that a licence to kill one or two kestrels would be justified. As for gulls, again, what would be the reason for killing them? If it is to protect a species of some conservation concern then it could be justified.

Charles Nodder

Ian’s otherwise excellent article says that buzzards have enjoyed ‘full protection’ for many years. Not quite right. Licences have been issued every year for many years to kill buzzards around UK airports. Nobody has objected.

And of course the licensing system provides an absolute legal backstop that no licences can be issued if they would adversely impact the conservation status of the licensed species, so this was never about whether or not buzzards would continue to ‘soar in the skies’ (unless of course you wanted to raise opportunistic funds).

At the same time NE issued the non-lethal buzzard nest destruction licences to prevent serious damage to pheasants, it also issued licences to trap and kill adult buzzards regularly predating a free range poultry unit in the South West. Strangely, the RSPB’s wrath was vented on the former but not the latter. Seumus says he is opposed to the control of native predators to protect non-native gamebirds. What does he think about controlling buzzards to protect non-native chickens, or controlling native cormorants to protect non-native rainbow trout? We need some consistency here.

I completely agree with KC that those who torpedoed the planned Defra-funded buzzard research have much to answer for. As the National Gamekeepers’ Organisation commented at the time, “The deflection of this research means that in future licence applications will just have to be judged without the benefit of independent scientific advice on possible non-lethal alternatives. It is hard to see how that leaves buzzards better off.” So it has proved.

The law allows for the control of any British bird (yes, even the Schedule 1 species) in circumstances where there is a genuine problem which control would resolve, there is no other satisfactory solution and the conservation status of the bird for which the licence is being issued would not be affected. In the recent buzzard cases these tests were met, due process was followed and the licences were issued. We should support the correct administration of the law and a consistent approach towards all species.

Alan Tilmouth

I am one of those that has a simple view, as Ian stated I object to native birds being killed to protect non-natives that will subsequently be killed themselves.I’m not vegetarian and I will/have eaten species such as Pheasant/Duck/Chicken etc. My preference would be to that no native species, Foxes, Crows, Weasels, Jays, Cormorants etc are killed. If that means I need to pay more for the food I eat so be it.
The objections I had with the Buzzard Management proposals were also simple, they were not all ‘non-lethal’ control measures, the removal of nests that may contain eggs and the removal of adults into captivity were unacceptable solutions in my view (and thankfully that of many others). Where is the trial of netted release pen roofs from Natural England or GWCT? The proposals rather than be framed in terms of encouraging farmers and gamekeepers to co-exist with a healthy Buzzard population were simply about the best methods of removal.
I’m happy and proud to have played a part in ‘torpedoing’ these proposals. As for the licences issued by Natural England (Ian Carter’s employer) they were in my view issued erroneously and against the DEFRA guidelines. Not all mitigation had been followed in the case of the shooting estate in Northumberland, a fact highlighted by the review. Where mitigation had been undertaken, bag size had increased. The ‘evidence’ provided by both the free-range chicken farmer and shooting estate effectively added up to them telling Natural England they were losing birds to Buzzards with little or no hard evidence in support of that.
Perhaps Ian would be good enough to explain why NE consider it reasonable to use historical bag returns from a time when raptor populations were seriously depressed through illegal persecution as the benchmark on which to determine licences? This in my view is fundamentally flawed.
The other objection that I have to NE issuing licences is the signal it sends out to those involved in the game industry that the Buzzard is a ‘pest’ or ‘vermin’ as they like to refer to them. Note the current almost weekly incidence of poisoning and shooting of the species across the country from those who will always be happy to stick two fingers up the law and any licensing system. The fact that these birds can be legally killed simply turns the illegal persecution into a matter of semantics for many.
As for Charles Nodder (political advisor to the National Gamekeepers Organisation) comments about the issue of licences to control Buzzards in order to protect from air collision is he really serious about comparing this to the protection of non-native gamebirds bred to be shot? It is difficult to object to conrol in those circumstances but not a little disingenuous to attempt to draw comparisons.

Ailín Ó Súilleabháin

A very thoughtful article.

It brings to mind some of the issues surrounding the re-introduction of the more “charismatic” species such as golden eagle, white-tailed eagle and red kite here in Ireland whereas there seems to be little discussion of bringing back less “impressive” species like the corn bunting or our extinct plant and instinct species.

Very little of the landscape of Europe can be called “natural” in any meaningful way. We are essentially “gardening” the landscape with our intensive agriculture, roads and buildings. Buzzards only exist in the numbers they do because we either don’t persecute them or haven’t changed their environment to the extent that they cannot survive in it. The author is right about there being double standards regarding which species are ok to kill and which aren’t and such arguments are often based less on science and more on anthropomorphism. I abhor the killing of any animal for personal entertainment but we can’t have it both ways; either we allow some shooting and allocate science-based quotas or we allow no shooting at all. Without regulation, the hunting lobby will just take their activities underground (pun intended).

There is some merit in the argument that the shooting lobby do provide habitat for other wildlife even if the idea of killing things does make most people uncomfortable.

Charles Nodder

In response to Alan Tilmouth, my earlier comment didn’t draw any comparisons between buzzards killed at airports and buzzards killed for other purposes. I merely used to airport example to correct the statement in Ian’s article that buzzards have enjoyed full protection.

Alan says he doesn’t like any native species being killed and would pay more for his food were they not. He is entitled to that view but he might end up paying a great deal more if his logic were to extend to all species: insect pests, molluscs – and what about weeds? Even organic farmers kill native species, they just do it by mechanical rather than chemical means.

Otherwise, I am struck by the common sense abounding in this debate. Most people seem to be accept that when circumstances require it, we do need to intervene with nature. In the case of British birds it is surely better to do so legitimately, via licensing decisions based on best available science, rather than by people taking matters into their own hands.


An interesting article and I agree that many conservation-minded individuals in the UK tend to have species where they expect that there needs to be some controls in place for various reasons, whilst there are also species where the opposite is true. Similarly there will be those that oppose of all killing for ethical reasons as indicated in your article. It is also interesting how this situation differs across other countries where traditions and population densities of species are different to those in the UK and therefore challenge the acceptability of controls as viewed from the UK perspective.
I also see an argument provided from Pigeon Fanciers as an example, where some species are seen as “bad” or “evil” and others as “good” just because one may have evolved to eat avian meat rather than invertebrate meat. This seems to be illogical to conservation-minded folk like myself but is an attitude to wildlife that I see exists across a large sector of society.
For me, I accept that some species will be controlled and as long as I am comfortable that a numbers of factors remain true, I am not overly concerned. Ie :-
• Would control reduce or damage the population & sustainability of the species?
• Is the species protected and recovering from long-term losses or persecution?
• Does the control offer the last resort having exhausted all other means to mitigate and avoid losses or damages?
• Is the need for control scientifically proven and not borne out of propaganda & ignorance?
• The controls are humane and minimize collateral disturbance to other wildlife as is possible.
• Lead shot is not used.
In the case of the Common Buzzard, I am not comfortable that licenses to control birds can meet all of these criteria and as we are seeing from the current Badger culling, are meted out through NE or DEFRA as a means of meeting the ideals of farmers and landowners and their keepers for allowing continuation of traditional methods of control to take place irrespective of the true need for control. It is evident that some farmers and keepers do have a “culture of killing” to heart and believe they “know best” because they have lived in the countryside all of their lives and are not about wanting to listen to what science is telling them is really happening. There are others of course who just love to kill and provision of a license or political will to facilitate this needs no more explanation in their opinion. I know of one local sportsman who is a good friend of mine who believes that Foxes are evil because they kill more than they need to eat and if not controlled, will overrun our neighbourhoods biting children and pets along the way. It’s these bigoted attitudes that are often rooted in tradition and myth that are difficult to affect but I remain the optimist despite the current political situation where there seems to be a war on wildlife and possibly a politically motivated aim to repeal the law with respect to hunting with dogs? The culture to drink & drive or to be more safety conscious in our lives are examples of cultural changes seen during my life time. Personally I would like to see the culture of killing to change where the underlying reason is clearly just because some but not all human beings, do find it acceptable to kill for pleasure where as opposed to having evolved to kill to survive. I personally do not find it acceptable to control a predator species just to protect sporting interests but there are those who will undoubtedly want to disagree.
I am also not comfortable that species known to be in decline as breeding and/or wintering species in the UK should be allowed to be legally shot in the UK. The three species, Woodcock, Common Snipe and Golden Plover immediately spring to mind here. We also know that licenses are habitually being granted to destroy Herring Gull which is known to be in population decline as a breeding species in the UK.
What I would like to see is a stronger stance taken from government and government organisations such as NE and DEFRA in applying tighter criteria and putting wildlife first wherever possible. I would also like to see other NGOs including RSPB, challenging more forcibly the concept of what is and is not acceptable and this will undoubtedly require them to challenge shooting organisations and government more than I see them doing right now.

David Blake

Ian’s article describes some of the ways in which we value one species differently from another. I think that the issue is more fundamental: we value each other’s activities and cultural priorities very differently. We need to create a space where those value judgements can be set to one side while we discuss how we manage conflicts between relatively common species and human aspiration. The debate always starts off with a description of what is being done by whom to what and why, and then degenerates rapidly into judgements about motivations and cultural values. Unless we can create a non-judgemental space, then we will not be able to move on.

Rob Yorke (@blackgull)

A well reasoned piece and subject close to my heart when attempting to keep a balance that sometimes loses sight of the end game; biodiversity net gains.

I have guest blogged on similar stuff for Mark Avery
And RSPB’s Direction of Conservation Martin Harper

Stimulating an informed view of both sides of an argument may never be attractive to some (esp partisans) but we must not shy away from more good stuff like this!


I think you’re right to some extent David but where I struggle with this is where one party may be happy to disregard law and another not. Should those who want to bring about what they see as good, have to sit at the table with factions who want to bring about bad as defined by the laws of that country? The current climate in the UK has government and their departments showing favour and bias to those that would want to harm wildlife for their own aims, the next most obvious example being biodiversity offsetting.

Robin Prytherch

I was very disappointed by my friend Ian Carter’s thoughts stimulated by the current furore over the licensed control of Common Buzzards Buteo buteo (BB eye, BB 106: 490-491). Most importantly he failed to state clearly that Common Buzzards, along with the other species he mentioned, are protected by law. It seems to me (and perhaps I am reading between the lines) that he is in favour of licensed control of Common Buzzards?

His title is, of course, absolutely correct. All of his examples are cultural in origin (as are all such examples), but does this make them, therefore, acceptable in the 21st Century? That we hide these ‘cultural’ activities in the name of sport, agriculture, hunting and shooting, etc., is shameful in my view. But it goes beyond that. Every new house, new road, new airport or high speed railway kills birds and many other forms of life from the moment they start building them. For how long can this go on? We must learn to grow up as a species and remember that our survival depends on the survival of all other life. This may be a naïve view to some people, but I urge them all to think on it.

Before we all forget, it is well worth reminding ourselves of why Common Buzzards were protected in the first place. Few species (except for other raptors and especially Hen Harriers Circus cyaneus) have a history of outright killing over centuries as has the Common Buzzard. It was blasted out of its natural habitats in lowland Britain to a point when they became virtually extinct over much of their former range. But during the last 60 years or so they have regained much of their lost ground to great acclaim from most people, including some of their former enemies. This welcome change was due largely to a change in the law which gave them full protection. Now that the Common Buzzard population is recovering very successfully what do some people want to do? Start killing them again! Hasn’t the population suffered enough over the years? It makes me angry and sad that some people are considering this option.

Rob Yorke (@blackgull)

A well balanced set of comments such as above can be hard to find these days. Emotion is powerful and we find it hard to prevent if from overshadowing cold logic.

Bullfinches are also subject to the same wildlife control measures but because we import most of our apples, we simply export the problem of commercial orchards having to control them elsewhere. (at least the French probably eat them)

My letter on this subject in The Times today will be largely ignored – mainly because of the paywall but also because it takes us uncomfortably close to our biodiversity responsibilities that aren’t found in a cuddly RSPB TV advert.

Here it is anyway – paywall free

Conor Jameson

What about proving there is a problem, and demonstrating that there is no non-lethal solution? Neither seem to me to be the case with buzzards/pheasants. I’d like to see more emphasis on providing adequate protection for captive livestock. Basically, protect penned pheasants from aerial attack. The treatment of these birds is shameful, as is the consequent culture of killing ‘nuisance’ species.

And still no one mentions the goshawk, as usual. I wonder why not.

Alan Tilmouth

Charles when you wrote “Nobody has objected”, a comment on the licences issued to airports to remove Buzzards that may represent an air collision hazard you were most clearly comparing the lack of objections to those licences to the objections raised over NE’s recent licences. In doing so you chose to compare the two reasons for the issue of licences.

Tim G

Very cogently argued and a very interesting piece! As has been pointed out above though the issue in this instance was especially to do with the fact that NE issued a licence to “control” a native and protected species to protect commercial gain from an imported one. Not only does this set an awful precedent it was done on the quiet to prevent inquiry. Open government on this and similar issues is a joke, the law is there for a reason and very clear on lethal methods, dropping it for expediency is practically the same as not having it at all.

Anand Prasad

P.S It occurred me to that maybe a new tradition has been alive for nearly 33 years; the not-killing of raptors.
Or do traditions and culture only belong to history-books and the landowner and shooting classes?

Charles Nodder

Some contributors seem to think that the granting of licences is a matter of choice for NE or for Defra. It is not. The various purposes for which a licence can be granted were set out in law as far back as 1981. They are backed by aspects of the EU Birds Directive and by past decisions of the European Court, which have established what tests must be met before a licence is grantable. But – and this is the crucial point – if those tests ARE met, which is a matter of fact not of opinion, then a licence cannot, by law, be unreasonably withheld.

Mike Everett

Ian Carter gives us much food for thought in his BBeye piece. I agree with the general drift of much that he says, but not entirely with his views about the basis for the strong reactions of many of us to the proposal to control Buzzards.

He seems to have overlooked the most important question of all, and surely the one that we should be asking first as we think about our own stance. That is, quite simply, what is the evidence for any need for control – in other words, how many gamebirds are actually being killed, who says so and what proper research has been done to produce the evidence ? The real reason that so many of us are furious is that this evidence seems not to exist , or if it does has somehow not found its way into any peer-reviewed publication. In other words, we feel that this is a big con that somebody has passed through on the nod. As I write this I cannot help thinking of Magpies – which are killed legally because, among other things, they are said to cause serious damage to game bird numbers. Proper scientific evidence for this stance seems non-existent, but nobody cares. Not an exact analogy, perhaps, but it does make you wonder.

Of course we should try to view all birds equally in this discussion, but I think we can be forgiven for taking a hard-nosed stance on raptor killing, given that so much of it still goes on, often with impunity. You have only to read certain field sports magazines and newspapers to realise that for all our successes in raptor conservation we are still struggling to overcome a general antipathy towards birds of prey in certain quarters, Buzzards included.

It has been said that seeing this Buzzard affair as the thin end of the wedge is being unduly cynical. I wonder ……. Peregrines and Sparrowhawks next?

Alan Tilmouth

Charles Nodder claims that the tests designed to inform the decision to issue or not issue licences were met yet in the documents published under FOI I noted the following:

NE visits concluded “The recommended layout for the release pen is one third open area, one third ground cover and one third shrubs and trees. Few of the release sites visited conformed with this.”
“The recommended woodland thinning and provision of brash piles has yet to be carried out”.
So the release pens didn’t conform to recommended layout and the mitigation recommended had not been carried out. Which tests were met Charles?
In addition the latest advice from GWCT suggests that returns around the 35% mark are reasonable and to be expected.” – the return rates for this applicant 2011-12 34.5% and 2012-13 37.3% so despite this claimed serious predation by Buzzards the return rates during shoots are reasonable and to be expected based on GWCT advice, yet licences were still issued.
Further to this in the subsequent review at Director level within NE the following statement was made:

“In my review, I have highlighted several concerns regarding the evidence presented in support of the application for a licence for these shoots, particularly in respect to serious damage and the implementation of legal non-lethal methods.
It is difficult to objectively and accurately measure the level of predation damage due to buzzards. We can, however, use shooting returns as an indicator of the potential extent of predation”

Which brings be back to the point made much earlier to which Ian Carter is yet to respond, how can historical shooting returns be used as a benchmark when they were obtained during times when raptor populations were hugely suppressed due to widespread illegal persecution?

Andrew Gilruth

I feel Ian should be congratulated for standing up and saying what he is thinking. Tough one.

The comments on pheasants v’s buzzards are interesting but, for me, Ian’s last paragraph is most important. Interpreting our wildlife legislation is part of Natural England’s job and that is particularly hard when some are demand that large, impressive birds of prey should be treated differently from other species (native or not). There is no mechanism to ‘fudge’ licensing decisions (at EU or UK level) and if one existed I feel that would be utterly impractical to implement.

For those that seek to change our licensing legislation; how are you proposing to do it in a way that can be effectively interpreted?

Mark Thomas

This article would have been much more credible had it been balanced by a counter view from another independent professional ornithologist who could have sought insight in the drafting phase by a non government support team.

Eric Meek

Ian Carter’s article on ‘The culture of killing’ (Brit. Birds 106: 490-491) raises some interesting issues about why we value some bird species more than others. However, in relation to the licensed killing of Common Buzzards Buteo buteo, I believe that he has missed what is surely one of the most important factors.

This licensed killing is in order, supposedly, to protect stocks of Pheasants Phasianus colchicus, a species that is not native to Britain. I have read various estimates of just how many Pheasants are being released into the wild each year and those estimates seem to average out at at least 20 million, a figure that means that almost one-third of the avian biomass in this country in autumn is made up of one alien species!

Just what affect is the release of such enormous numbers of a non-native bird into the British countryside having on our native species and how can it ever be justified to licence the killing of a native raptor in order to protect them?

Richard Broughton

A very good piece, although I was surprised at Ian using Blackbird, Skylark and Song Thrush as species that “we have got used to the fact that [they] are not hunted in Britain”. On the contrary, Natural England issued licenses for the sport hunting by falconers of 214 Blackbirds in 2011, along with 35 Song Thrushes and 205 Skylarks (
Song Thrush and Skylark are both red-listed species, whereas Common Buzzard is green-listed, so it was an unfortunate (and inaccurate) comparison. The number of green-listed Common Buzzards affected by the Natural England control licenses would have been far fewer than the 240 red-listed Skylarks and Song Thrushes killed for fun by falconers, so it does highlight Ian’s point about the response to the killing of certain species appearing to be based on something other than conservation.

Tom Tarrant

Sounds like a great book but I’m a little concerned regarding giving specific sites for ‘rarities’…..with all the current concerns for biodiversity in Africa, we shouldn’t be encouraging the ‘captive-bird’ trade.

Ian Carter

A number of people have commented that I missed a key point in the article by not referring more clearly to the primary reasons for their objection to the licensed control of Common Buzzards. They suggested that their objection was not so much because of the species involved but because of the purpose for which control was undertaken, this being the protection of a non-native gamebird released each year in huge numbers for shooting. Some also raised concerns about the extent of evidence available to justify the need for licensed control. These are legitimate points though I maintain my belief that the overall strength of reaction to this licence was because of the species involved rather than the purpose for which it was issued.

Every year hundreds of thousands of native birds and mammals are killed for the purpose of protecting non-native gamebirds, including Carrion Crows, Magpies, large gulls, Foxes, Weasels and Stoats. The birds are all killed under licence. Hundreds of thousands more birds are killed simply for sport. Whilst not everyone would agree that this is justified, all this killing tends to attract relatively little attention within the conservation community. When it does attract comment this is often in relation to concerns about possible impacts on populations rather than an underlying objection to the principles behind lethal control. In contrast, the loss of a small number of Buzzard nests resulted in an extremely strong reaction. The strength of feeling here is surely primarily related to our instinctive cultural response to the species involved. In the article I was trying to highlight this inconsistency in our reactions to the control of different species rather than commenting on the rights of wrongs of individual licences.

Mike Everett makes the valid point that there is perhaps a particularly hard-nosed stance in relation to control of birds of prey because of the illegal killing that still goes on, and no doubt also because of the past history of large-scale control by humans. However, I think there are some risks in lumping all species of raptor together as a group and treating them all as something of a special case. One of the main reasons for writing the article was a nagging worry that so much attention has recently been focussed on a species that is under no conservation threat whatsoever from lethal control. I haven’t gone to the trouble of adding them all up but I suspect that in recent months more column inches in newspapers, birding magazines and blogs have been devoted to the control of Buzzards than to the current perilous state of the Hen Harrier, a species that is on the edge of extinction as a breeding bird in England. Conor Jameson mentions the Goshawk, another species absent from substantial parts of its range in Britain as a direct result of persecution. Is there not a danger that arguments about the genuinely shocking impact of human control on some highly vulnerable species (albeit illegal rather than licenced) could be diluted by so much discussion about the very limited control of a species that is thriving?

John Corkindale

Ian Carter’s article on ‘The Culture of Killing’ (Brit. Birds 106: 490-491) raises many questions about how we value different bird species and it is certainly of interest to compare the values we put on different species, not least because of the need to prioritise the allocation of the scarce resources available for conservation purposes. For the purposes of cost-benefit analysis (CBA), there is a distinction between the value we actually place upon the benefits we associate with the conservation of a particular bird species on the one hand and the factors that result in our arriving at that value in the first place. As Ian Carter suggests, there are all sorts of reasons why we might value the conservation of some species more than others, and these reasons will vary from one place to another and also over time. Thus, for example, many people in the UK in Victorian times took the view that all birds of prey should be regarded as a pest whereas nowadays probably the prevailing view is that they should be conserved. Equally, in various southern European countries, the attitude to killing passerine bird species for the dinner table is very different to the way most people think in the UK. One consequence of this kind of variation is it can be confusing to those, for example conservation planners, who understandably perhaps might prefer to think of value as something capable of being measured according to some immutable and absolute standard. Unfortunately, this is simply not the case and economists have always had to live with that reality. Sometimes, the consequences can be positively comical. Thus, for example, when a CBA was conducted by the local planning authority in Pembroke, Ontario in Canada to try to decide whether or not a local swallow roost should be conserved, the very fact of the CBA having been carried out and the publicity surrounding it resulted in many more people wanting to visit the swallow roost than ever before thus, in the process, completely invalidating the original benefit estimate. (Clark, 1987)
The truth is that CBA produces results that are no more reliable than those of much market research, but this does not alter the fact that many organisations find market research useful and continue to spend large sums of money on it. Like market research, CBA can help to reduce the range of uncertainty confronting decision-makers but it certainly cannot eliminate it. A feature of CBA the Pembroke case neatly points up is that benefits are measured according to how many people benefit and how much, on average, each of those people do benefit according their own assessment. Thus the more people who visit the Pembroke swallow roost the more valuable it will appear to be in a CBA. CBA thus has the attraction of being a rather democratic way of measuring costs and benefits. Unfortunately, however, it can give rise to results that do not always suit the public authorities. Often, for example in the field of arts and heritage, benefits are assessed, not using the methodology of CBA, but by inserting the values of those in authority into the cost-benefit equation. Perhaps a more legitimate procedure is for those who value something highly, such as the conservation of farmland bird species, to try to persuade other members of society of their point of view. Of course, such an approach will often fall foul of the understandable impatience of conservationists who are principally concerned with the practicalities of how to conserve rather than the no doubt more arcane problem of how to assess the extent of the benefit is to be derived from the conservation expenditure involved. However, when it comes to the question of how much in the way of financial resources is to be devoted to conservation, and how these financial resources are to be allocated between different species, it is not quite so easy to avoid the valuation issue. And this is perhaps the principal reason why conservationists should be interested in it.
John Corkindale
W R Clark (1987): ‘Economics and Marketing of ‘Canada’s Capistrano’ in A W Diamond and F L Filion (eds.): ‘The Value of Birds’, ICBP Technical Publication No.6


But Ian – the title you have chosen is “A Culture of Killing”. The point is that the underlying culture that befalls a certain sector of the UK is the same for licenced killing as it is for illegal persecution. Any excuse that can be made for wanting to destroy a part of our natural landscape will be made by these people who have little understanding of the difference between a Common Buzzard and a Hen Harrier – both will be viewed as fair game by those that hold the culture of killing that you headline. And yes, I think that most birders will value the value of protecting all native species of fauna and flora where ever possible and not just BoP. The Buzzard licencing headline drew much attention as would befit any species that has just recovered from wholesale persecution. I wonder what future for the Red Kite which is still in recovery in many areas of the UK?

Alan Tilmouth

Ian you may well be correct that for me at least the species in loved does play a role in how I have responded. 25 years ago in Northumberland seeing a Buzzard involved a full day in the field and a degree of luck to happen on an individual close to the border with Cumbria. That Buzzards are now widespread in the county brings me much joy. They have achieved this recovery without reintroductions or any obvious conservation help. I simply find it unacceptable that now the population is healthy the numbers will be reduced to improve the profits of a game business. In my opinion it is difficult not to view this as a first step, the removal of one or two nests this year may be inconsequential when viewed in the context of the impact on overall population but what happens next year when more Buzzards move in? What about the responses of the 70% of gamekeepers who when surveyed ‘perceived’ an impact from Buzzards? Will Natural England use the same benchmark returns based on historical periods when populations were suppressed through illegal persecution? How many Buzzard nests would be destroyed if all 70% applied for licences and provided the same flimsy evidence but were granted licences?

Andrew Gilruth

I feel it is absolutely right that we ask ‘what if’ questions; however, for me, the theme of Alan’s question above has already been answered. Not only do Natural England have an obligation to review the impacts of granting licenses on populations, they have, for cormorants, done exactly that…

“The licences which are issued may slightly reduce the numbers of cormorants in a local area, but the overall number of cormorants killed under licence is closely monitored to ensure the overall conservation status of the population is maintained.”


Ron Mintram

Hello Marcus Ward,
I am the secretary of a small Natural History Group in the New Forest and I note that you are giving a talk to the Romsey HWT group on Jan 20th 2014 entitled ‘Woodland Birds of New Forest’.
I inquire as to your availabilty and fee. I am putting next years program together and seek speakers within our budget.
We meet in the church hall at Dibden Purlieu
Thank You
Ron Mintram

Leanne bostock

White heron seen today at St. John lake nr torpoint cornwall with a grey heron. Was wonderful to see got a photo, but now very clear.

Bill Bourne

One of the curious things about the continuing debate on the conservation of Common Buzzards (British Birds 106: 490-491) is that the best reason for conserving them is seldom memtioned: they eat small mammals, especially Rabbits. It is debatable whether apart from providing “sport” and food game birds do us much good, but unquestionable that some small mammals do harm to agriculture, and Buzzards must be one of their more important predators, and therefore one of our most useful birds (and they have also repeatedly provided an opening for letters like this one).

Jeff Harrison

Heard a Tawny hooting from trees in a meadow adjacent to our garden just before 12 noon today. We’ve had Tawnys nesting within 100 metres of our garden for at least 35 years and we see/hear them actually in the garden nearly every night but this is only about the 3rd time I’ve heard daytime calling in more than 40 years of birding.

Rubén Barone

In addition to the mentioned records from the Canary Islands (I was one of the observers of the bird that stayed here in 2002-2003), there is one very recent observation in the Cape Verde Islands, that are also within the boundaries of the Western Palearctic: a bird in June and July 2011 at Barragem de Poilao, an artificial lake (dam) of Santiago Island. The record has been published in the journal ZOOLOGIA CABOVERDIANA, 3 (1): 1-28 (2012).

Jessica Burnett

I agree with Bob; while I have yet to study the effects of a declining population in Gainesville, Florida, US, our sparrows are restricted to concrete facilities with only minimal, usually non-natural, vegetation.

Does anyone have access to or permission to share a copy of this paper? I do not have access through my university. Thanks!

Jessica Burnett

I also forgot to mention to J.D. Summers-Smith, I am currently reading your book, “The House Sparrow” and am thoroughly enjoying it.

Anand Prasad

I notice a few comments above by Charles Nodder spin doctor for the NGA, one of which was highlighted in the recent October BB.

BB are sleep walking on this affair. This is the same Charles Nodder who states the possession of illegal pesticides is ‘not an offence against wildlife.’ This is spin doctoring of the highest order, personally i would call it an outright lie.
The National Wildlife Crime Unit, The Scottish Government, The Crown Office and The Partnership for Action (PAW – of which NGA is even a member!) all considers possession of banned poisons a wildlife crime.
But this lie enables Nodder to play, a disappearing elephant, slight of hand. The NGA does not expel members convicted of poison offences and at the same time claim they don’t tolerate wildlife crime. This is just plain distortion of the highest order.
Strangely enough this relates directly to the gamekeeper who was licensed to cull the infamous Buzzard nest, who has exactly the same name as a gamekeeper who was convicted of a Wildlife Crime and whose stashes of banned poisons were found in his work vehicle and inside one of his pheasant pens.
Nodder’s explanation for why this particular gamekeeper wasn’t booted out of the NGO was to suggest that possession of a banned poison was not a ‘gamekeeping activity’’.
The NGA has a Disciplinary Code to expel members for criminal convictions but it is being flouted with false terminology.
And Nodder thinks the NGA should be trusted. I am at a loss for words on that request.

BB readers might also be in the dark about the extermination of Peregrines from English grouse moors. There are now more Peregrines breeding in London that the whole of the Pennines (probably 11 pairs).
We are quietly snoring away as the Peregrine is very quickly going the way of the Hen Harrier. Soon we will only be able to see Peregrines in the lowlands and cities.

Meanwhile the RSPB holds the Scottish Bird fair at Hopetoun aka Leadhills estate, one if not the worst raptor persecution hot spot in Scotland. I Don’t think there is a conspiracy here, just incredible naivety.


Sandy McWilliams

In my garden I have also seen a decline in Collared doves but not an increase in Woodpigeon. I have however seen an increase in Sparrowhawk activity and witnessed them killing collared doves as well as other birds.

Geir Mobakken

A splendid report as usual. An adjustment that would make it even better could be to give proper credit to the finder of a rare bird. Now the observers are listed alphabetically, making it hard to know who actually found the bird. That would be a service to (foreign) readers who don´t know the at-location details of a particular rare bird occurrence.

Jeff Martin

Most interesting Jeff Harrison. Do you by any chance have a date for the first time? A rough idea will do fine.
Thank you.

P Collins

Not only farmland birds but every sort of bird. Where I live in Frinton on Sea, an old reservoir had become the home of owls, woodpeckers, house and hedge sparrows and many other now scarce small birds. Developers bought the site and felled the oak and walnut trees, some of a considerable age and the area once bejewelled in summer by a myriad of small blue butterflies is deserted, silent mutilated site. The application for nearly 40 houses in 2 1/2 acres will probably be rubber stamped by an indifferent council. The same thing is happening to farmland as farmers retire and sell to developers. That Silent Spring is becoming a reality and we are all the poorer.

Maggie Laslett

There were three great white egrets seen this morning in our fields at Stockland Bristol. They had gone again by the time I had returned with a camera so no photos I am afraid.

Mike Hodges

Collared doves have completely disappeared from this part of Norfolk.Found two dead yesterday and suspect a virus as birds showed no signs of eye closure as with my 10 dead greenfinches.Wood Pigeon control by Sparrow Hawk with over 15 corpses in the past three weeks.One female spent one hour feeding on our doorstep!

Juliet Wilson

I regularly see a tawny owl in a roost hole in a tree by the walkway alongside the Water of leith in Edinburgh. Approximate grid rederence: NT214694. It usually has its eyes open but it doesn’t move much and I haven’t heard it calling.

George stoker

Tawny Owls
Postcode NE464SR


Ange Smith

Tawny Owls calling in Haw Park Wood Wakefied – 1 at 11.05 and 1 at 11.35hrs on 17.11.13. Grid Ref SE 365 152. Mixed Woodland surrounded by arable farmland. Weather 8degrees, cloud 8/8, no wind.


I heard one hooting at 1.30 yesterday (Nov 16th) at Leith Hill in Surrey. A grey, misty sort of day but still daylight. And I remember hearing one when looking for an arctic redpoll in Richmond Park, so that must have been between 4th-6th march 2011. Definitely daylight, but I can’t remember what time of day it was.

Jeff Martin

Thank you once again for your useful information.
Thanks for the grid references.
The best times to hear daylight hooting is between 11am and 2pm, and in bright sunshine.
John Walshe: John, it is because of the Jay problem that we are only accepting records of hooting birds. We eliminated the Jay problem some time ago, but thanks.

Richard Broughton

Jeff, Jays can hoot too! Several years ago I observed a group of 3 Jays together in Monks Wood NNR. One gave the ‘kwik’ mimicry call, and another responded with a perfect long hoot “hooohooooo”. I was astounded, especially that the second bird apparently *knew* the association between the calls. Quite a reflection on the intelligence of Jays.

Jeff Martin

Thanks Richard, I’ve never heard of this before. The kewick type of call yes, without a doubt, but hooting……
We now have enough systematic evidence to show that these are tawny owls hooting, and not jays. Do jays have the vocal ability to produce hoots that can imitate the hoot of tawny owls?
Tawny owls however, do respond with territorial hooting to the presence of some species, such as jays. At such times tawnies are notoriously difficult to see.

Ron Youngman

British Birds-the past, present and future

Ian Packer has made an annoying mistake by asking those who wish to have their say to “use the comments facility on the website”. He has assumed, as do too many, that everyone has access to websites by one device or another. This is not the case and there will always be those who choose not to.
Elsewhere in his piece he has stated that “The internet is here to stay”.
There are some who would disagree.
In my view it is hardly a fair comparison to suggest that BB should be delivered on line because the Economist, the Financial Times, the Guardian and Vogue, among others, are. These are all ephemeral; one-day or one-month wonders. I do not regard BB in this way. The content of BB will be valuable over a period of years to decades, not minutes or hours.
It would have been helpful to those of us asked to think about the future of BB if Ian Packer had presented at least a ball-park estimate for the revenue from advertising as a percentage of the total cost of production and distribution of BB. He has implied that this revenue is decreasing and is presumably suggesting that, over time, it may decline to an extent that printed publication of BB would need to cease.
Change may be inevitable but Ian Packer would do well to recognise that, as in book production, the number of printed books sold has barely declined despite the enormous increase in the number of books sold on line for use on Kindle and similar devices. I suggest people like to hold and own printed books. BB is not far short of being a book.
I, for one, will always want to have an actual copy of BB; a virtual copy will just not do.

Ron Youngman

British Birds-the past, present and future

Ian Packer has made an annoying mistake by asking those who wish to have their say to “use the comments facility on the website”. He has assumed, as do too many, that everyone has access to websites by one device or another. This is not the case and there will always be those who choose not to.
Elsewhere in his piece he has stated that “The internet is here to stay”.
There are some who would disagree.
In my view it is hardly a fair comparison to suggest that BB should be delivered on line because the Economist, the Financial Times, the Guardian and Vogue, among others, are. These are all ephemeral; one-day or one-month wonders. I do not regard BB in this way. The content of BB will be valuable over a period of years to decades, not minutes or hours.
It would have been helpful to those of us asked to think about the future of BB if Ian Packer had presented at least a ball-park estimate for the revenue from advertising as a percentage of the total cost of production and distribution of BB. He has implied that this revenue is decreasing and is presumably suggesting that, over time, it may decline to an extent that printed publication of BB would need to cease.
Change may be inevitable but Ian Packer would do well to recognise that, as in book production, the number of printed books sold has barely declined despite the enormous increase in the number of books sold on line for use on Kindle and similar devices. I suggest people like to hold and own printed books. BB is not far short of being a book.
I, for one, will always want to have an actual copy of BB; a virtual copy will just not do.

Ian Walker

I agree with Mr Youngman’s comments and sentiment.

I value all my back copies of BB with pride and the thought of the publication becoming digital one day is concerning.

My back copies not only provide me with enjoyment but offer a valuable resource.

Whilst we become a throw away, instant news orientated society – BB is not a throw away publication. It has integrity and this should not be compromised just for the sake of change.

Richard Carefoot

I have also seen them in the breeding season down to sea level at Longyearbyen…. but it’s in Svalbard, not Greenland.

Dave Emley

I have a dilemma – what to do with 60 years of BB. Since a large proportion of subscribers keep their past copies I suspect it’s a dilemma shared with many others. Following the publication of BBi and the on-line archive these are now worthless and I can’t even give them away. It looks like they will be heading for the recycle bin which is a shame. It is a familiar tale in the university I work in where there are shelves and shelves full of journals that, on retirement of the lecturers, get skipped. Do I look at my back copies? No; well not very often, and then it’s usually the key articles. So, realistically they should go or I could just save the key issues but …. Although I have worked in IT all my life I still prefer the printed word, I find it difficult to follow long articles on a screen. However, the introduction of tablets makes sitting down to read an on-line article much more like reading a book or magazine. It also has the advantage that the article can include more images, links to larger resolution pictures, links to video and to related content. So is this the future of BB? It takes more, not less, effort to produce a good on-line document but theoretically the production costs would be reduced. But, as we are still at a stage when not all subscribers are on line there is still a place for the printed version. Also, I still worry about the long-term security of digital media. I have the same concerns about the bird club annual report that I edit. At 280 pages it is a sizeable document and comes with a considerable cost. Would it be better as a PDF? Certainly the workload would be the same but the document size would be considerable if image resolution was to be high and to be selfish there is more personal satisfaction at seeing a printed copy of your work than a virtual one. It will be interesting to hear others opinions.


I think it’s great that British Birds is looking forward and considering producing an electronic version. By simply adding keywords and links to an article you could be just one click away from the BB archive material, and endless extra content on the internet. This would make it infinitely easier to further research around a topic of interest.

Having said that I (at present) would really not like to see an end to the paper copy. Ideally subscriptions for paper and/or electronic versions would be available. I spend enough of my time staring at computers, phone and tablets and it makes a nice change to be able to sit back with a journal.

One thing I would definitely like to see though is a British Birds Facebook Page, as I feel the content offered would lend itself well to the Facebook format and would be another avenue to stimulate more discussion.

Geoff Smith

I completely agree with Mr Youngman. This editorial rang a few alarm bells for me, especially the part about keeping the print copy “for as long as it is viable”. Whilst I can use the internet and e-mail I am by no means competent with much of the digital media available today. My phone does phone calls and texts – it probably does a few other things that I don’t know about too but it is not a ‘smart phone’ and I have no wish to own one. I cannot understand why so many people today seem to have one of these permanently glued to their hand. Nor do I have a tablet or a kindle and doubt that I ever will. Nor can I see the point of Facebook, etc., although the dangers of social media are obvious.
I thoroughly enjoy reading my print copy of BB and looking through the back issues which inhabit my bookshelves. Whilst I understand that there may be some advantages to digital versions (sound files, etc.) I have no wish to spend my days staring at a computer screen. Please maintain the print version – I don’t care if you have to increase the price, I will happily pay it for such a quality journal. My doormat awaits the next edition!

Richard Broughton

It was definitely a hooting Jay, Jeff – I had all three together in my bins and watched as they vocalised, they were in a close group at the top of a tree. I suppose if corvids can be trained to mimic humans/anthropogenic sounds then they can probably reproduce many simple bird calls.

Richard Fuller

I agree that BB offers unique and high quality content, and is physically a pleasure to read, so I hope that a print edition will remain viable for as long as possible. I keep selected back issues and find print preferable to the online archive. I think that longer, complex and thought provoking material such as is often found in BB, together with integral illustrations in context, is better suited to print medium. As with other quality publications I would accept some degree of price increase if the case were made. I probably would subscribe to an online (PC or ipad) edition but only if if I had no other choice.Perhaps it’s my age, but I avoid Facebook for a variety of reasons.


One of my old stamping grounds changed forever. What has happened to the watch house, we spent many wonderful weekends there birding and kayaking, and helped to put it all back together after the last devastation.
At least no lives were lost. Would like to come for a look but its along way from Unst

Richard Porter

The Watch House was flooded to a depth of about 2 feet and the surge did wash away the water butt. There was no structural damage except for a broken door to the toilet block. If you could be persuaded to make a return pilgrimage Dick, I’m sure the National Trust would welcome your experience. I guess there’s a good three days work to clean things up………….

Yes, no lives lost thankfully, nor any livestock, which was surprising.

Tom Green

Some good news Dick – The Watch House (aka Half-way House) will be fine when it has dried out – we plan to stay there in August! The Cley Beach Road ‘shelter’ is still intact! The NT Blakeney Point old Life-boat Station had quite a lot of damage but should be OK for next season. The worse damage is to the east

Debate will run and run about the future of Blakeney Freshes, the potential danger to Wiveton and Cley Villages of NOT carrying out the massive repairs to the Blakeney/Cley bank and the ecological impact if there is unchallenged reversion to salt-marsh. A proper forum of objective debate by all parties from Blakeney Point to Kelling is urgently needed. One linked ecosystem demands joined-up thinking..but now probably chasing a budget drained by nationwide flood demands unless we find someone local with deep pockets.

I agree with Richard and Steve- lots of regular salt on Salthouse marshes will have a massive impact there as well as impacting on the new NWT/’Popes’ marsh and through the drains into the old NWT Cley drains. I hope that allowing breaches at Salthouse to remain unfilled was never part of a ‘managed retreat’ strategy yet some suggest that attempts to fill them are futile. Act now to find the solution!

Steve Bale

Thank you for the excellent report and photographs.

BB is on the ball again in its reporting of the current issues that matter.

I now feel better informed with regard to the salt marsh vs fresh water, and estuary vs grazing-marsh debates.

But I still have a few questions:

Whose decision will it be to take or not to take remedial action?

What criteria will they use?

When will that decision be taken?

Who will pay for the decision-making process and for any repair work that it sanctions?

Is the repair sustainable? And at what cost, to whom?

Tom Green

As an observer of the local situation I can only pass on what I have heard. The primary player appears to be the Environment Agency. However, political intervention,the public purse, conservation bodies, local lobbying and the guidance from established science and such documents as the coastal management plan will no doubt play a part in what happens next. Env Agency bulletins state…..along the lines of … the situation is being assessed and remedial work done according to priorities. Steve Bale is not alone in feeling in the dark. Understandably, remedial work to ensure the protection of lives and property is already happening, but beyond that communities are very anxious that there is very little public information on even an outline timetable and plan of action. Meanwhile the elements conspire to defeat good intention and past accepted practice (as with the breaches at Salthouse and the now the unprotected Blakeney Freshes.) ideally this upsetting situation should open the way for serious debate, but sadly it could lead to parochialism and speculation, both of which divide communities. Money is short, but almost anything is possible where there is a will.. I can only pose other questions to guide our thinking. Does the community give sufficient weight to the massive economic benefit which is currently provided to North Norfolk by outdoor leisure activity and eco-tourism based on the natural envirnment? and …. How much would be lost if coastal protection practice were to be put in reverse?

Sean Morris

My mother comments ‘Just a few months after buying a pair of Muckboots they split across the back. Took them back to the shop and they said they had had a lot of problems with Muckboot splitting and no longer had them in stock. I agree they were comfortable etc but not much use if they only last such a short space of time.’

Chris wheeler

We seem to be approaching one of the biggest ecological disasters this country has ever experienced by losing a National Nature Reserve as well as one of the most famous wildlife reserves in this country – Blakeney Freshes and Cley Reserve. For why? Because of bureaucratic incompetence and political interference.
At Blakeney Freshes all that is needed is a simple repair of a few breaches in a robust embankment which has remained stable and effective for 60 years since the surge of 1953. At Cley the immediate need is the closure of two gaps in the shingle bank which could be done with a bulldozer. Nothing has happened and we who live locally know nothing. The bureaucrats, if they are meeting, meet in secret and even the various landowners have no idea when or whether the various agencies are going to get on with fulfilling their statutory duties in carrying out the remedial work. The possibility is looming that nothing will be done hence the ecological disaster. Any pressure that can be brought to bear on the Government and its agencies would be very welcome.

Steve Turnbull

Sorry, the soles on these are lethal amongst rocks, harbours etc. and yes, they also tend to split easily along seams etc.

Graham Holt

Today (location urban garden RG41 3JA) a raptor with slow wingbeats and a horizontal glide flew north at tree-top height over a copse of trees and my neighbours garden going north. It was the size of a buzzard but had a straight tail and was therefore not a buzzard nor a Red Kite (both of which are common here and I know them well) Looking at the descriptions in the Collins Guide makes me think Goshawk as the bird I saw maintained a level flight – 3 wingbeats level glide, 3 wingbeats level glide. Had I not just read Looking for the Goshawk I would have not know the characteristics. But then …. we do have sparrowhawks here, twice some years ago in the garden taking collared doves. So 20/1 it was a female sparrowhawk. But maybe …..

Derek Washington

I like the print version very much, but I also like having a searchable version off-line on my PC (I have the first 100 years and the search facility is extremely useful). For me the print version’s life would expire when a download becomes available. I would be willing to pay a higher subscription to receive both versions.


I saw a Nuthatch at Catrine in Ayrshire today. This is North of where it is common but I read in your site that the range is moving North so perhaps will become a more common sight in years to come. I have a 12 figure grid reference if required.

Geir Mobakken

A nice and thorough paper on Subalpine Warbler by Lars Svensson, as usual. What I wonder though is why birders and rare birds committees alike seemingly always have regarded the eastern form (traditionally albistriata) as the unusual one in a vagrant context, as opposed to the western form (traditionally cantillans). Having done no specific investigation, I find references to eastern birds not infrequent and based on geography there should be no reason to suggest it is the rarest of the two, rather the opposite.

pete jennings

For the Atlas results to be ‘used as forcibly as possible’ they need to be made available asap to local records centres so that they feed into the local authority planning process. This is the best use that could be made of them and I’m sure that the thousands of volunteers would expect there fieldwork to be made available in such a way so as to help protect there local area from inappropriate developments.

pete jennings

The trouble these days is that there are so few potential well-known presidents of conservation/bird organisations to choose from. There’s Chris and Iolo and ….?

Richard Broughton

Hi Jeff, description as in the original comment (no. 6). Can’t really add any more, it was mimicry of a classic ‘kwik’ followed by a classic wavering hoot.

Richard Holland

I fully appreciate the viability issue and all that goes with that, one cannot operate at a loss or at best, ‘break even’ in business, but, I feel it would be a retrograde step if the printed hard-copy was no more. In which case, I’m afraid I would not be able to continue with my subscription, simply because I do not possess, (nor, wish to,) a “Kindle”, Tablet, or Smartphone. And I would never enjoy sitting at a PC in order to read the latest issue of the magazine.

In general,,it appears to me, there is an ever increasing ‘rush’ by the magazine industry as a whole, to offer ‘digital’ subscriptions at more favourable rates versus hard-copy ( taking fully into account the fact there are no direct printing costs, materials, distribution et al. involved) I feel that there is a pernicious move towards dispensing with printed hard copies of magazines in the drive for harnessing revenues in the ever increasing online advertising versus traditional printed advertising markets. Again, very broadly speaking, I fear that, people like myself, a traditionalist? will be ‘left behind’ – be in the “increasing minority” !! (sic) LOL!!!!

I am pragmatic about the ever changing digital world and its opportunities both for businesses and consumers and overall, I’m all for it. I also appreciate the delicate balancing act “BB” as a publisher, has to undertake in order continue to thrive and prosper in an ever “crowded” market place. Not easy. But it would be such a shame if such a stellar publication and ALL it’s history becomes less accessible (ironically) in the “Brave New World” at the expense of people being able to refer back where….”Future readers will want their content to be with them and accessible at all times, anywhere” So do I. Not all people have access to digital devices, and indeed, may choose not to indulge into the “Digital Age”.

Digital is not without it’s problems (as I appreciate you are fully aware) viz digital technology; which moves on at break neck speed, storage of data, accessibility thereof, (including all the problems of technology reliability i.e. ‘corrupted’ files device failure and perhaps worse still, “built in obsolescence” i.e Tablet here today, gone tomorrow – replaced by the latest “must have” For instance, examples of ‘going/heading out’ of favour, Laptops, Netbooks, DVD Disks Compact Flash cards etc.

So what would happen to a subscriber with XYZ No. of years back issues of “BB” on their device/s which ultimately will/could become obsolete and unable to access same? Hypothetically speaking.

Conversely, paper hard copies can be stored readily and reliably accessed, to all whom may not have the digital devices (including PC’s) to hand.

I know I’m stating the obvious above, but I feel very strongly about this issue.

Richard Holland

Pat Dwyer

It is some time since this report, which I’m sure Richard will update when something concrete can be added. Of interest is the fact that some ” natural healing” of the breach at Salthouse has taken place, though it would be foolish on my part to construde this as being anywhere near sufficient or ideal against further storms. Today’s statement from the EA chair suggests to me that very little will be done away from the residential populations at Salthouse and Cley. The West flood bank at Cley has been repaired. Accordingly we wait for repairs or clearance to the East Bank at Cley. I have been directed to some entries in the late Billy Bishop’s diaries which clearly demonstrate that what we have experienced recently is not a new phenomenon and that the habitats do recover eventually, though I also agree that these same well known areas have changed and will continue to do so. Regretably, there is not anywhere near enough of public money to throw at repairing what are considered low key sites: though private funds are always warmly welcome and have worked in some cases to limit the effects of coastal erosion.
I too hope that expertise through various groups can be positively collated and channelled to good use and my thanks to all those at Cley Bird Club ( amongst others) and Kelling work party for giving up their valuble time to carry out clearances.

Roger Underwood

As a new subscriber to BB can I say that I would have little objection to the magazine going on-line. I live abroad (France) and am used to accessing reading material through the internet on my Apple iPad, On this device I can read where I like in the house, even in bed before retiring! The facility to expand the text and the back-lit screen are both definite advantages. I would not use my desktop computer for this as I agree this is not an enjoyable or relaxing approach to leisure reading.
I subscribe to the London Review of Books (LRB) which is available on-line and have found it really useful to access their archive of book reviews and articles over the last 30 years. The ability to access these quickly and easily by keywords is a great advantage, something I would never bother to do if I had to plough through boxed sets of previous printed editions. I should add that I am not a computer enthusiast or professional but just a retired 70 yr old.
Roger Underwood

Phil Tizzard

It is good to learn that the Atlas is the best-selling BTO publication ever, but I’m not sure that the conclusion that people still appreciate a ‘good, old-fashioned’ book is valid; if I wanted to see the results of this project I had no choice BUT to buy the book!
Personally I would welcome it if at least the species accounts were to be made available in electronic format. This would immediately address the grumble “that the maps are still on the small side”, since they could be viewed on screen at whatever scale one wished.
And surely making the material available in digital format would immediately increase its accessibility and hence its impact.
So have the BTO missed a trick here? Or is there an intention to follow up with a digital version at some stage?

Brian White

Inundation by sand on Blakeney Point, 9 December 2013. Dam sand it gets everywhere! I may be wrong but the reserve was actually formed by a breach that no one could be bothered to repair? The medieval harbour went the same way but with silting not water inundation. I remember a Bishop telling me that the full row of cottages were only a hundred pounds each after the 1953 floods, the one with the huge loss of human life.

Magz Bradshaw

I live in Plymouth Devon and though I have flocks of goldfinches, sparrows, blackbirds, robins, wrens etc etc , I was honoured today by the visit of a very handsome strong looking Chaffinch…. he was a beaut


we are in rosneath scotland, we have two large bird tables in the back garden, everyday we have at least 50 of these birds on the tables and at least another 30 on the ground collecting seeds

Dr.Steve M.R. Young

I thought Iain Robertson’s editorial was a brave and heart-breakingly realistic wake up call. Everything he said made sense and I found it profoundly depressing. The first step towards doing something about the problem is to understand the actual nature of the problem. Iain not only woke me up, he held the coffee under my nose.

Dr Avery is right in what he says about the RSPB and UK conservation but I think he’s also made Robertson’s point. The UK successes are drops in the ocean. The problem is global – planetary in scale. The doubling of the human population in 30 years and the level of global corruption driving the business of wildlife trade as it does illegal logging and drugs trafficking effectively guarantee failure.

I know (second hand) that “most” UK government aid goes straight into the Swiss bank accounts of the chain of local politicians and police officials, in Africa at least. The Bob Geldof reference was interesting. He succeeded in bypassing the corruption but to what end? He helped sustain yet more humans in an over-pressurized environment. One could go further than Robertson and callously argue that pouring resources into propping up struggling human populations is as pointless, on an objective global scale, as spending money getting Ospreys to nest at Rutland Water.

We have to face the truth. We either decide that humanity deserves supremacy over the rest of the planet and we not only accept but support, with government cash and annual TV fund raising events, the accelerating multiplication of humans across the World (including all those thwarting conservation and lining their pockets) or we make the environment an absolute priority and demand that our governments force change. Because humans, especially wealthy “western ones”, are in general lazy, complacent, selfish and blinkered with only fifty usable years each to enjoy, I can’t see the latter happening.

But before I go and shoot myself I must say that Avery’s five actions are the only way it could be encouraged to happen. It is so easy to be a moaning bystander. Do we really care enough to do as Avery recommends and share his optimism?

Robin Cox

I was interested in the comments in this news item. Not only do we all lose high frequency hearing as we grow older but many people, like me, suffer from high frequency deafness from a much younger age. I am now in my late seventies but have not been able to hear many birds for the last thirty years.

That is until I bought a gadget called a Song Finder about four years ago. This appliance reduces the frequency of selected sound to an audible frequency. The bird song, of course, sounds different from what it does for those with normal hearing but, with practice, most sounds and calls can be identified including grasshopper warblers and goldcrests.

I have to say that Song Finder has revolutionised my birding. Whereas before I would walk in a woodland in complete silence I now realise that I am surrounded by birds. I have great difficulty in localising them but that is because I am totally deaf in my left ear. I cannot speak too highly of the benefit which the Song Finder has brought to me and I would certainly encourage deaf or ageing birders to use one. I had my original instrument modified by replacing the earphones (like the ones supplied in aircraft) with good quality, fully occlusive headphones which are incomparably better and cut out all extraneous noise as well as saving one’s friends from hearing the local birds in low frequency! However I often hear birds which my older friends with me do not! Unfortunately the Song Finder has to be imported from America but full details of it can be found at

Cheryl Wynne-Eyton

So sad to hear of Phil’s passing. I knew him quite well from my days of working at the RSPB.

Will there be a Memorial service and, if so, when and where?

Please pass on my condolences, rather belatedly, but I have just heard the news.

Thank you.

James R.A. Richards

A couple of early springs ago, I was gobsmacked to see goosanders of both sexes on a very long but narrow ornamental lake/pond not far from the River Vistula in the centre of Warsaw (known as Kanał Piaseczyński). The shape of the water was such that one could watch from, say, 5 m away. Hitherto, as a British birder I had always associated this species with distant (sometimes very distant) views on large gravel pits (along the Trent Valley, for example).

However, a few weeks ago (July 2014) on canalized/port section of the River Wda in the very centre of the Polish city of Bydgoszcz (360,000 inhabitants) I again saw a group of about 7 goosanders (none in adult male plumage, so all either female of juvenile) very close to the bank, and happily taking bread thrown by what were clearly regular goosander-feeders!

Rhiannon Nichol

I live in a woodland with a resident family of tawny owls and over the past week or two I have heard them, in particular the male, call during the day almost every single day that I have been at home. I don’t know when this behavior started as I was away in August, but I noticed when I returned (Early Sept.). They are also still very active at night seemingly. It’s very odd! I am living in York, England- the weather here has been generally warm and bright during the day.

Conor Jameson

I recently purchased an old book called Griffon Dreams (Robert Atkinson, 1938) with G. K. Yeates inscribed on an inner leaf. Am pleased to discover that George was the original owner of this book.

Owen Williams

Ringing gives us so much more than an idea of migration destinations from recoveries. The data that has been collected recently by a concerted effort on woodcock has revealed fascinating information on wintereing site fidelity, and adult juvenile ratios each winter. Information has also been gained on how woodcock weights respond to periods of cold weather. All of this would not be possible without dedicated ringers gathering biometrics from a large sample of birds.

C A Burgess

you’re not going to like this a lot I suspect it will not go to print all the information you have on paper today I have read with interest mainly the knowledge this is given the human race like many thousands of other people it does nothing for the bird you may know where thay go and come from you may know who’s trapping them and eating them that you can’t stop it everything that you mention is for your benefit not the bird the birds gained nothing from it you failed to mention how many bird perish through being rung, Over the years there has been many arguments I put it at 15 to 20% and many other people agree with that I remember when it was a big secret now you have brainwashed everybody will nearly everybody
thinking there is need for ringing, There never has been sorry to have to disagree.your demonstration at rutland was nothing less than disgustinga large amount of people walked away in disgust I doubt if you noticed.the answer to your question ringing is not