British Birds February 2010

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

The Eskimo Curlew in Britain
Tim Melling summarises the history and migrations of the Eskimo Curlew, a formerly abundant American wader now possibly extinct. A recent review of all British records by BOURC concluded that the previously accepted first British record (Woodbridge, Suffolk, November 1852) is no longer acceptable. Details of all British claims are presented, and the review concluded that four British records are still acceptable. One shot at the summit of Cairn Mon Earn, North-east Scotland, on 6th September 1855 becomes the first British record.

Green Warbler on Scilly: new to Britain
Britainís only Green Warbler was discovered on Scilly on 26th September 1983. The taxonomic position of Green Warbler has oscillated since then, between separate species and subspecies of the Greenish Warbler complex, but it is currently recognised as a full species, and is described as such here by Nigel Hudson. A brief review of the distribution, associated weather conditions leading up to its discovery, identification and taxonomy are presented.

The population biology of Common Sandpipers in Britain
Long-term studies of the population biology of Common Sandpipers in the Peak District and in the Scottish Borders are summarised in this article by Tom Dougall, Peter Holland and Derek Yaldon. They have established that adults are usually site-faithful, males more so than females, contributing to a good apparent survival rate (72% and 67%, respectively). Some, at least, return to breed at one year old, but usually not to the site where they hatched. The population in Britain seems to be in slow decline, most obviously indicated by a contraction along the edges of its range, which results especially from poor recruitment of young birds. This does not seem to be due to poorer breeding success, but it is uncertain whether it is caused by a subtle effect of climate change, change in quality of stopover sites on migration, or changes in wintering habitat. Since we donít know precisely where British birds spend the winter, the last possibility is especially hard to evaluate.

The BB/BTO Best Bird Book of the Year 2009
The winner this year of this long-running award was Tim Birkheadís ĎThe Wisdom of Birdsí, published by Bloomsbury.

Conservation research news

Titles of the short articles this month are: Habitat-specific breeding population trends for British birds; Traditional livestock grazing replaces the role of extinct herbivores for avian conservation; and Identifying seasonal distributions and migratory routes of birds: advances in geolocator-tag technology

Letters, reviews, news & comment and a summary of recent reports complete the issue.

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