British Birds February 2012


The February issue of British Birds is now out and contains the following articles.

Bitterns and Bittern Conservation in the UK

Andy Brown, Gillian Gilbert and Simon Wotton tell the full story of Bitterns and of the Bittern conservation effort in the UK. Once widespread and even locally numerous across the lowlands of the UK, the Eurasian Bittern had been extirpated by a combination of habitat loss and persecution by the late 1880s. After the species returned, at the start of the second decade of the twentieth century, numbers increased to a peak in the 1950s, before falling precipitously to a low point in 1997, when the population was only just into double figures. Extinction – for a second time – was averted only by a concerted conservation effort to restore the larger reedbeds which still contained Bitterns and those from which the birds had most recently been lost. Those efforts are described here. To date, Bittern numbers have responded well, but the future of Bitterns in the UK is far from secure, with climate change, through sea-level rise and drying in the southeast, threatening to undermine much that has been achieved. A reinvigorated reedbed creation programme should provide a secure future for Bitterns in the UK.

Eagle Owls in Doñana: a conservation dilemma or not?

The recent increase in the numbers of Eagle Owls in Britain has led to widespread concern about the potential impact of this top predator on populations of other birds and mammals. Vincenzo Penteriani, Rui Lourenço and Maria del Mar Delgado
present data on the recent colonisation by Eagle Owls of the Doñana protected area, in southern Spain. The authors describe population density and distribution, breeding biology, diet, home-range behaviour and natal dispersal of the species. Four years of research have highlighted the complexity of the situation in Doñana, and suggest that decision-makers should act with extreme caution when contemplating population control.

The BB/BTO Best Bird Book of the Year 2011

British Birds and the BTO announce the winner of the Award for Best Bird Book of the Year. All books reviewed in BB or the BTO publications BTO News and Bird Study (and on the BTO website www.bto.org) during the year 2011 were eligible for consideration for this Award. And the winner was… Reed and Bush Warblers, by Peter Kennerley and David Pearson, illustrated by Brian Small (published by Christopher Helm and reviewed in BB by Paul Harvey, vol. 104: 168–170).

Letters
Occurrence of the Eagle Owl in the Mediterranean

Notes
Topics this month include: Great Cormorant taking Grass Snake; Oystercatchers feeding a Common Gull chick; and Differentiating the calls of male and female Sand Martins.

Book reviews, News & comment and Recent reports complete the issue.

For more details, and to see a recent issue of the magazine, visit our website at www.britishbirds.co.uk