Series: BTO Bird Atlas – Regional Atlases [NHBS List] Volume: 03 Buckinghamshire
392 pages, 255 colour photos, colour illustrations, colour distribution maps, tables
Full status reviews of all the 294 species recorded in the county, including full colour maps comparing the status of each species from the last survey carried out in 1980 to its present status with 255 photographs taken within the county. Dates of all occurrences are provided for the rarer species.
A high-quality, full colour hardback book with 390 pages covering habitat, sites, a review of migration through the county, as well as a review of the changing nature of species and populations. Tables comparing the changes in arrival and departure dates and earliest arrival dates are provided as well as a review of the county garden bird survey.
The Birds of Buckinghamshire is an excellent County Avifauna which is beautifully produced and illustrated: an absolute 'must have' for anyone interested in any aspect of Buckinghamshire birdlife. It appeals to both the experienced ornithologist and the occasional weekend or holiday birdwatcher who wants to learn more.
"This excellent, attractively produced and timely book should provide birdwatchers and conservation planners in Buckinghamshire with a trusted reference source for many years. Landlocked in central southern England, Buckinghamshire has traditionally been viewed by many as a Cinderella county, yet with its rich array of habitats, diversity of species, key birding spots and value as an indicator of population trends, it deserves exploration, scrutiny and protection.
Just as the Hobby Falco subbuteo on the dust jacket of the first edition (published in 1993) signalled a surprisingly important breeding population of this species, so the Red Kite Milvus milvus circling against a Chiltern escarpment on the cover of this second edition suggests a traditional sight in Buckinghamshire. But wait – breeding by Red Kites in modern times began as recently as 1992. The human memory plays tricks and solid facts are required periodically to generate an accurate current picture. Step forward Buckinghamshire’s modestly sized but energetic bird club, together with the BTO membership, and in tandem with a determined editorial team led by Dave Ferguson: together, they have produced an eye-catching, comprehensive, yet very readable update of the much-admired first edition.
The 294 species accounts (21 added since 1993) have been given sensible space and attention, in accordance with their abundance and knowledge of their biology, enhanced by best population estimates and population trends. The species accounts rely heavily on BTO website data, a marked contrast to the paper forms and hand-drawn maps created in 1993. Some eight breeding species have been added, including Little Egret Egretta garzetta and Cetti’s Warbler Cettia cetti, perhaps helped by climate change, Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo by gravel-pits, Lesser Black-backed Larus fuscus and Herring Gulls L. argentatus by landfill sites, while Peregrine Falcons F. peregrinus nested in Aylesbury in 2011, using a crafted tray part-funded by bird club members. Today, Turtle Dove Streptopelia turtur, Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata, Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus and Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus are a quartet of sub-Saharan wintering species showing population declines of great concern. Lesser Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos minor and Corn Bunting Emberiza calandra are now very local breeding birds, and Willow Tit Poecile montana is limited to just a few sites. Long-distance migrants from farmland and woodland feature heavily among ten species ‘lost’ as breeding species since 1900, which include Corn Crake Crex crex (c. 1947), Stone-curlew Burhinus oedicnemus (1964), Wood Warbler P. sibilatrix (1992) and Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus (1997). Waterbirds are well represented among the breeding species ‘gained’ in that period, including Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata (1946), Common Tern Sterna hirundo (1968), Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus (2000) and Goosander Mergus merganser (2007).
A dozen chapters help to embrace and enhance the core species texts. Most illuminating, perhaps, are those on bird migration by Mike Wallen, richly illustrated by some excellent digital images and showing sites discovered during Atlas fieldwork – emphasising the value of exploring new ground. Eye-catching long-distance BTO recoveries, portrayed by maps, illustrate the strength of this scheme within the county. Similarly, the highly illustrated chapter on bird habitats by Rob Andrew, supported by a gazetteer providing site information, access and potential birds to be encountered will help birders. On the debit side, any updated texts that draw in part on existing narrative may lack a little of the fluidity from one started from scratch. Accepting this caveat, this modestly priced avifauna should provide a sound reference for Buckinghamshire birders and visitors to this under-explored county for many years to come."
- David Glue, www.britishbirds.co.uk, 06-03-2013
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