Cambridgeshire Bird Atlas 2007-2011 provides a complete and comprehensive overview of the summer and winter distribution and abundance of birds in the county. There are 500 detailed maps which show where 167 bird species can be found breeding or wintering. Facing the maps are expert species accounts interpreting the maps and placing them in historical and national context.
Cambridgeshire Bird Atlas 2007-2011 has been compiled from data collected for the British Trust for Ornithology's national UK Bird Atlas 2007-2011. That project, perhaps one of the largest examples of 'citizen science' ever undertaken, involved over 40,000 enthusiastic volunteer surveyors over four summers and winters.
For this Cambridgeshire Bird Atlas 2007-2011, almost a thousand contributors – from professional ornithologists to ordinary birdwatching members of the public – provided details of the birds they saw, either during timed visits to specific Ordnance Survey squares, or as roving records through the seasons. Species have been mapped at a closer level of detail than for the national atlas – at the 2 km square level; there are just short of one thousand such squares within the county boundary. Records were received from 90% of these squares.
The readable species accounts in the Cambridgeshire Bird Atlas 2007-2011 will be accessible to birdwatchers, or anyone interested in wildlife, at whatever level of expertise. Cambridgeshire Bird Atlas 2007-2011 maps and data will also be highly relevant to local government, to schools, and to other agencies, institutions and organisations involved with planning, land-use, ecology, the environment and nature conservation in Cambridgeshire and Peterborough.
"[...] This is an affordable and admirably concise work, making good use of the statistics obtained from the national Atlas. [...]"
- David Ballance, Ibis (2014), 156, 478–489
"Almost 60 years after I learnt so much from the (then) Cambridge Bird Club, and 50 years since bird mapping was first mooted, the fourth BTO national atlas (and the first dual-season atlas) is imminent. Trailing it in Cambridgeshire comes this handy, more locally focused and informative reworking of the 2007–11 data. It presents a full snapshot of how birds currently use the county’s diverse habitats. It also represents past findings from earlier mapped surveys, stretching back to 1979–83 and other historically significant records. It disclaims, however, any attempt to be a complete avifauna or site guide.
The book opens with 12 crisp pages of scene setting, method summary and main avifaunal changes. Its core product comes from 267 pages of 199 species accounts. Resident birds are accorded up to a full page of text, two pairs of summer and winter maps showing both distribution and abundance, and a digest of status. One-season birds get generally less text and just one pair of maps; a few scarcities warrant only comment. Overall, the presentation of facts and places is concise and clear, and among the 51 black-and-white drawings there are some real gems. Given the restricted page area (248 × 170 mm) the maps are small and, for easy distinction of the tiny coloured symbols, I recommend a magnifying glass.
While I was generally impressed with the remarkably detailed reprise of an avifauna that I so enjoyed six decades ago, one feature made me itch. The headline estimates of county populations were derived ‘downwards’ by proportionate spatial recalculations of the recent UK population figures (Brit. Birds 106: 64–100). Surely, the 906 ‘citizen scientists’ who reached all but five of the county’s 969 tetrads (and made dual-season visits to at least 75% of them) would have been better rewarded by the ‘upwards’ construction of locally informed and thus more sensitive figures. Why were the team of 16 authors so shy of expanding the final appendix of atlas effort into just such an attempt?
Owing to the county’s wealth of old and new wetlands and nearly 60 reserves, the birds of Cambridgeshire seem better set than those of many other English counties. Only the balance of trends for seed-eaters is woeful. No chance today of jumping on a bike and finding a Cirl Bunting Emberiza cirlus within 40 minutes of pedalling from the city’s centre!"
- D. I. M. Wallace, www.britishbirds.co.uk, 27-12-2013
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