British Birds May 2012

The May issue of British Birds is now out and its contents include...

What the eye doesn’t see: the prevalence of fraud in ornithology

Andrew Harrop, Martin Collinson and Tim Melling broach one of the thorniest topics in birding. They suggest that there is a tendency to see examples of fraud in ornithology as rare aberrations. Their paper outlines some known and suspected historical examples of fraud, and argues that fraud of one kind or another has occurred more or less consistently, if uncommonly, in ornithology. Although most of the examples discussed are from Britain, it is likely that similar examples could be found in the archives of many nations. It is also likely that small-scale fraud continues today and is something that the ornithological community should be aware of. In particular, this has implications for the level of proof required by those assessing records of rarities.

An unprecedented influx of Iceland Gulls in the northeastern Atlantic in January/February 2012

An extraordinary influx of Iceland Gulls into northern Britain occurred during January and February 2012. That influx is described here, with particular attention to the numbers involved, the age composition of the birds and the occurrence of Kumlien’s Gulls. The scale of the influx into Britain & Ireland was dwarfed by that which occurred in the Faroe Islands, and a comparable account for that archipelago is included.

Habitat of territorial Firecrests in north Norfolk
Author Chris Mason describes the habitat occupied by territorial Firecrests in north Norfolk. A total of 63 territories were discovered in three breeding seasons between 2008 and 2011. The species of trees and shrubs found in each territory were recorded and territories assigned to one of eight habitat groups, ranging from predominantly deciduous to primarily coniferous, though all contained at least some evergreen cover. Exotic conifers were included in all of the territories occupied in more than one year. The conservation implications are discussed.

The increasing Firecrest population in the New Forest, Hampshire

The first confirmed breeding record of Firecrests in the UK was in the New Forest, Hampshire, in 1962. The New Forest has remained a stronghold for this species in the UK and, since 2000, numbers appear to have increased significantly. Here, we report on intensive survey work during 2009–11 and confirm that, with up to 270 recorded territories, the New Forest currently accounts for a third or more of all recorded Firecrest territories in the UK.

Letters
Bittern and Bittern conservation in the UK; and more on the potential problems of a decline in the hearing abilities of bird surveyors as they get older!

Notes
Topics this month include: Coloboma in an adult Eurasian Sparrowhawk; Peregrine Falcons breeding on saltmarsh in southern England; Greenshank seeking shelter during Peregrine attack; Common Swift nests; Play behaviour in Common Swifts

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