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BTO: Fifty years counting waterbirds

Goosander by Jill Pakenham
January 16th is the 50th anniversary of the International Waterbirds Census (IWC) in which volunteers from over one hundred countries will get out in search of their waterbirds, anyone can get involved via IWC or by taking part in the Wetland Bird Survey (WeBS).

Raptor Persecution Scotland: DEFRA finally publishes its Hen Harrier Action Plan


hh LAURIE CAMPBELL
Female Hen Harrier at nest with chicks

DEFRA has today published its long awaited Hen Harrier Action Plan. As expected, the six ‘actions’ that apparently will contribute to the recovery of the hen harrier are as follows: Monitoring of hen harrier populations in England and the UK. Diversionary feeding of hen harriers on grouse moors. Analyse monitoring data and build intelligence picture...


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British Birds » Editorials: BB eye: Getting your lists in order



Mark Holling
Mark Holling

By Mark Holling

Imagine: you're planning a trip to eastern Europe in spring and you want to swat up on the distribution and ID criteria of Pied Ficedula hypoleuca and Collared Flycatchers F. albicollis. In the Collins Bird Guide they are, as you expected, after the warblers. Looking for a bit more detail, you find BWP is the same. But then, broadening the search, you turn to HBW; and their online option has bird families in a quite different order! After warblers, you find babblers, nuthatches and treecreepers, not flycatchers; they are immediately after thrushes, and before warblers in the sequence presented. OK, it's easy to find families quickly online. Not really a problem? But why the difference?

British Birds » Main articles: From the Rarities Committee’s files: Rare subspecies in Britain

By Andy Stoddart, on behalf of BBRC

Abstract This paper updates BBRC's approach to the recording of rare subspecies in Britain. Building on the work of Kehoe (2006), it summarises the history of BBRC's treatment of rare subspecies, reports on developments since 2006, introduces an updated suite of subspecies accounts on the BBRC website (www.bbrc.org.uk) and sets out the Committee's approach to evidence requirements and publication. Also provided is a new list of subspecies considered and some proposed indicative evidence requirements for each.

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Male 'Spanish Wagtail' Motacilla flava iberiae, Portugal, April 2006. Yellow Wagtail of the subspecies iberiae, which breeds in southern France, Iberia and northwest Africa, is not yet on the British List but it is a potential vagrant and its occurrence has been suspected. Only males are likely to be identifiable, however. Observers of a possible male iberiae should focus on the precise supercilium, ear-covert/eye-ring and throat patterns and, crucially, the call. It is, however, a somewhat variable subspecies and needs to be distinguished from white-throated first-summer male nominate flava ('Blue-headed Wagtail') and from the not infrequent intergrades both with this subspecies and with the Italian subspecies cinereocapilla ('Ashy-headed Wagtail'). Intergrades with the latter are particularly frequent (resulting in birds with reduced supercilia) and acceptance as 'iberiae/cinereocapilla' might be most appropriate in such cases. Indeed, these two subspecies are included by some authors within a potential new species, 'White-throated Wagtail' M. cinereocapilla. Pic by Dave Appleton
Male 'Spanish Wagtail' Motacilla flava iberiae, Portugal, April 2006.

Yellow Wagtail of the subspecies iberiae, which breeds in southern France, Iberia and northwest Africa, is not yet on the British List but it is a potential vagrant and its occurrence has been suspected. Only males are likely to be identifiable, however. Observers of a possible male iberiae should focus on the precise supercilium, ear-covert/eye-ring and throat patterns and, crucially, the call. It is, however, a somewhat variable subspecies and needs to be distinguished from white-throated first-summer male nominate flava ('Blue-headed Wagtail') and from the not infrequent intergrades both with this subspecies and with the Italian subspecies cinereocapilla ('Ashy-headed Wagtail'). Intergrades with the latter are particularly frequent (resulting in birds with reduced supercilia) and acceptance as 'iberiae/cinereocapilla' might be most appropriate in such cases. Indeed, these two subspecies are included by some authors within a potential new species, 'White-throated Wagtail' M. cinereocapilla. Pic by Dave Appleton

The post From the Rarities Committee’s files: Rare subspecies in Britain appeared first on British Birds.

British Birds » Book reviews: Wildfowl of Europe, Asia and North America


Wildfowl

By Sébastien Reeber
Christopher Helm/Bloomsbury, 2015; hbk, 656pp; 72 colour plates, 650 colour photos, distribution maps, black-and-white illustrations
ISBN 978-1-4729-1234-3, £34.99

This impressive volume covers the identification and ageing of 83 species of ducks, geese and swans that breed in North America, Europe and Asia. In essence it deals with all the species that occur regularly in the entire Holarctic region, including the probably extinct Crested Shelduck Tadorna cristata. Not included are a few breeding species from southern Asia such as Wandering Whistling Duck Dendrocygna arcuata, Sunda Anas gibberifrons and Andaman Teals A. albogularis and the possibly extinct Pink-headed Duck Rhodonessa caryophyllacea. These species, a small number of vagrants to the region and others that have occurred only as escapes from captivity were covered in Madge and Burn's Wildfowl: an identification guide to the ducks, geese and swans of the world (Helm, 1988). Compared with the earlier volume, the reduced geographical scope of the present guide allows for a much more detailed treatment of each species. This incorporates numerous new insights into identification and taxonomy and several recently elevated species are fully covered for the first time. The vexing subject of hybridisation is examined in far greater detail than previously...

Plants to Attract Birds to Your Garden


AT HOME WITH URBAN NATURE
• Creating a nature friendly family garden on a budget, attracting wildlife to our new home • Supporting local wild animals of town through simple backyard conservation • Identifying the new species to visit or colonise our green space • Appreciating the natural neighbours sharing our urban habitat • 
Here is an extract from BBC Nature's Features, on how to help wildlife in your garden. Helen Bostock, wildlife garden expert from the Royal Horticultural Society, gives us her top ten flowers, herbs, shrubs & trees to plant to attract & provide for wildlife...


Firethorn
Firethorn Pyracantha provides
food & shelter for birds

Not all of the plants mentioned are directly attractive to birds, but the insects they attract can be, & so by starting near the bottom of the food chain & elsewhere in the garden ecosystem you can in turn attract & support garden birds in a more natural way, & outside of just offering bird feeders & bird baths...




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