The September issue of British Birds contains the 39th report of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel and includes details of 88 species or distinctive races that bred (or showed signs of breeding) in the UK in 2012.
The year was marked by the first breeding by Great White Egrets and a significant influx of Baillon’s Crakes, unprecedented in modern times. Late spring and summer were exceptionally wet, which hampered fieldwork and reduced productivity of some species.
Dry conditions in southern Europe apparently forced some typical Mediterranean species northwards, such as Baillon’s Crake (at least six calling birds located) and Black-winged Stilt (two pairs attempted to breed). One pair of stilts laid eggs but deserted them in heavy rain. Perhaps the most surprising record of the year was the pair of Rough-legged Buzzards in Co. Durham; display and nest-building were seen in April, but both birds had departed by early May.
Great White Egrets (two pairs) bred in the UK for the first time in 2012, in Somerset, where Little Bitterns (one pair) bred again and the numbers of Eurasian Bitterns reached another new peak (34 booming males in that county alone). Ten pairs of Eurasian Spoonbills bred at the colony in Norfolk where they have nested annually since 2010.
There was no confirmed breeding of Golden Oriole for the third consecutive year. Over those same three years, Red-backed Shrikes have bred in Devon, but in 2012 they were unsuccessful for the first time, another victim of the weather.
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