Three hundred and seventy species of birds have been recorded in an apparently wild state in the London Area. A list of 370 species is a formidable tally, the size of that of a small country. The 60 families of birds recorded in London represent just over a quarter of the total number of bird families in the world, a surprising richness in avian diversity. The London recording area covered by the London Natural History Society is the area within a 20-mile radius of St Paul's Cathedral. This area covers the whole of Greater London and parts of Hertfordshire, Essex, Kent, Surrey and Buckinghamshire. On average around 200 species of bird are recorded each year in a varied and rich matrix of habitats from grassland and woodland to wetland sites and the Thames estuary. The London area has some of the world's premiere urban nature reserves, which provide outstanding opportunities for bird study and photography, close to the homes of millions of people.
The London Bird Atlas is an authoritative and detailed account of just under 200 of the regularly occurring birds of London. It provides the most up-to-date analyses of the changes to London's birds based on a comprehensive survey run in conjunction with the British Trust for Ornithology's National Bird Atlas project. The text has been written by Ian Woodward, professional ornithologist, and Richard Arnold, a professional ecologist, who are on the committee of the London Bird Club, a section of the London Natural History Society which dates back to 1858. The text is complemented by a series of detailed maps produced by Neil Smith, a professional ecological cartographer. The London Bird Atlas is richly illustrated with images from a team of contributing photographers.
The London Bird Atlas brings together into a single volume the analyses of millions of bird records and research to tell you which birds are doing well, which ones have declined or held steady, and what the changes have been in relation to previous distribution surveys. It is also the first London bird atlas to include maps of bird abundance and to show the distribution of wintering birds. It also has information on where to watch birds and other wildlife in London. It will be an essential source of reference for London's birders.
Ian Woodward is from Chingford in north-east London and has lived in this area for most of his life. In 2005, he became the Regional Representative for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) in north London, organising BTO surveys in the area and working closely with the London Natural History Society (LNHS). Ian has worked for the BTO as a Research Officer since 2014 and became an LNHS Council Representative in 2015.
Richard Arnold originates from north London but is now firmly settled in the south. He is the Regional Representative for the British Trust for Ornithology in south London and a professional ecological consultant at Thomson Ecology. He served on the council of the Chartered Institute of Ecology and Environmental Management (CIEEM) and helped develop CIEEM's guidelines on ecological impact assessment.
Ian and Richard co-ordinated the survey work and wrote the species accounts for The London Bird Atlas.
Neil Smith, originally from the Chilterns, gained much of his early ecological and ornithological experience from living and working in Edinburgh and the west coast of Scotland. He trained as an ecologist, with an emphasis on botany and habitat surveying, and in doing so, developed an interest in the use of geographical information systems (GIS) in conservation and ecology. Neil currently works as a professional GIS consultant at Thomson Ecology. Neil managed the dataset and produced all the maps for The London Bird Atlas.
The London Natural History Society traces its history back to 1858. The Society is made up of a number of active sections that provide a wide range of talks, organised nature walks, coach trips and other activities. This range of events makes the LNHS one of the most active natural history societies in the world. Whether it is purely for recreation, or to develop field skills for a career in conservation, the LNHS offers a wide range of indoor and outdoor activities. Beginners are welcome at every event and gain access to the knowledge of some very skilled naturalists.
"This is the third London Atlas. The first reaction on opening a copy of any recent local atlas is bound to be admiration at the scale of the task and the success of its accomplishment. Here one has to say that the work has been thoroughly done, apart from a very few areas, such as Metropolitan Essex, where some weakness of coverage is admitted, and a few Hertfordshire tetrads where the results published in the county atlas have not been transferred. [...] the introductory sections offer good general analysis, including a helpful table showing the differences between the methods of the whole series of national works. However, the prose is hard going, with frequent repetition of phrases [...] The species accounts, though with some of the same problems, are more enjoyable. [...] the maps are cleverly planned (though they could be bigger), especially for abundance. [...] In my opinion there are too many photographs – this is an atlas, not a gallery. The unfortunate trend in atlases for more photographs means maps shrink – will most readers need a magnifier? I would also like to have read something about the recruitment, organisation and training of 1700 observers, and surely there were regional organisers who deserve special recognition."
– David Ballance, Ibis 161(4), October 2019
"For the huge amount of work that has clearly gone into the data collection and the enormous value of having maps that reflect the changes over nearly 50 years [...], I wanted maps that I could decipher more easily without the need of a magnifying glass. This is particularly true of the most important map of all – that showing the breeding changes – where the colours used for symbols are not clear, Each species has a photo which is often, to me, far too large. This is especially unfortunate and aesthetically unpleasing when it crosses two pages. [...] That aside this is a really good book and a great tribute to the volunteers who did the fieldwork that made it happen."
– Richard Porter, The London Naturalist 97, 2018