British Birds March 2010

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

Identification of Caspian Gull
This paper by Chris Gibbins, John Sweeney and Brian Small deals with the identification of Caspian Gull. In the first of two instalments, the authors deal with the identification of typical Caspian Gulls and their separation from Herring and Yellow-legged Gulls. It is targeted at non-specialists who remain unsure of the most reliable identification criteria, and at local records committees who need a structured basis for assessing claims. The paper contains 50 high-quality photographs and covers all age groups, but concentrates particularly on those treated in less detail in the published literature. It includes an appendix that distils key information and ranks criteria according to their value in field identification. Part 2, to be published in a future issue, will deal with the identification of less-typical individuals and hybrids.

DNA analysis of Common Snipe on the Azores
There are 78 records of Wilson’s Snipe on the Azores (to the end of October 2009), but the authors of this short paper found no evidence as yet to confirm the intriguing possibility that Wilson’s Snipe may have bred there.

The Status of Caspian Gull in Malta
Mike Sammut and John Azzopardi describe the first records of Caspian Gulls in Malta, and the pattern of occurrence during ten years of systematic recording.

Mike Madders (1957–2009)

BTO Research Update
In an extended BTO bulletin, Nick Moran takes a close look at the effects of the 2009/10 winter, now said to be the coldest in Britain for 30 years, but the coldest in Scotland for almost 50 years. Nick assesses the effects of different types of cold weather, hard-weather movements, large concentrations of common birds, unexpected rarities, unusual behaviour, mortality and concludes by speculating about the impact of the winter on resident breeding populations. Mark Grantham then uses figures from the CES ringing scheme and the Nest Records Scheme to show just how good the 2009 breeding season was for many British passerines.

Sheila Blamire gives a graphic and fully illustrated account of the interactions between breeding Mute and Black Swans in Cheshire & Wirral.

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

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