Today the RSPB has over one million members, reflecting the huge interest in birdwatching as a hobby. Over the years the growth in amateur birdwatchers has contributed enormously to our understanding of bird life, behaviour and populations.
But what did we know about birds a thousand years ago and how has our understanding developed? Which species did we recognise, and when did people begin to record their sightings?
Peter Bircham looks at the history of British ornithology from 1066 to the mid-1970s, exploring along the way the first bird book, the first British lists, the collectors, the first studies of migration, changes to the classification of species, the birth of the British Ornithologists' Union in 1858, to our current understanding of ornithology in Britain today. Peter has written an extremely authoritative and engrossing account, full of fascinating stories and extracts from poems and journals, which should appeal to the wider birding community as well as the New Naturalist audience.
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