The July issue of British Birds contains the 38th report of the Rare Breeding Birds Panel includes details of 88 species or distinctive races that bred (or showed signs of breeding) in the UK in 2011.
It may have been the meteorological conditions in southern Europe that led to the largest number of Common Quails yet recorded in any year (1992 singing males) and this influx is examined in this report. That total was undoubtedly boosted by the impact of fieldwork for the final season of the Bird Atlas 2007–11 project, which also had an effect on the recording rate of some other species. The impact of recent cold winters led to reduced numbers of several species including Bearded Tit, Cetti’s Warbler and Dartford Warbler, and may have held back the growth of the Little Egret population witnessed in the last ten years.
Eurasian Bitterns continue to increase in numbers and range, and Little Bitterns bred again in the extensive Avalon Marshes in Somerset. This area is becoming renowned for its marshland bird community, and Great White Egrets were almost added to the list of breeding birds in 2011 (but in the end we had to wait until 2012 for proof of breeding).
We report the highest-ever totals for five species of raptor: Red Kite, White-tailed Eagle, Northern Goshawk, Osprey and Peregrine Falcon.
In 2011, Avocets bred at over 100 sites, the first time that milestone has been passed. A national survey of Dotterels updated the population estimate to 423 breeding males, a significant decline since the last survey, in 1999.