The lost plover — Not so long ago, breeding Kentish Plovers scurried around the shingle beaches of their eponymous county and elsewhere in southern England. Sadly now lost as a breeder, the species still appears as a very scarce passage migrant, but is much better known in southern Europe. David Callahan profiles a plover with an intriguing history and a recent taxonomic twist.
Censusing the birds — The British Trust for Ornithology has been organising bird surveys for many years and these have provided much essential knowledge to help monitor our bird populations and help conserve them. The charity's Sarah Harris tells us about new developments this year and how you can take part as a 'citizen scientist'.
Sun, sea and endemics — It may be best known as a popular tourist destination, but Tenerife in the Canary Islands is home to a number of endemic birds and thousands of other creatures and plants found nowhere else in the world. With the spectacular volcano of Mount Teide, subtropical laurel forest and dry woodland and pines, its diverse habitats merit full exploration. James Lowen is your guide.
The wild card candidate — If you still want a good reason to start looking at gulls, here's one: expect the unexpected. Slaty-backed Gull is a good example, with the firsts for Britain and Ireland discovered not on far-flung islands but in London and Galway City. What's more, the species is appearing increasingly elsewhere in Europe and is actually quite distinctive, as Peter Adriaens reveals in next month's ID Photo Guide.
PLUS: late winter and early spring itineraries, getting Alpine Swift on your list, columnists Mark Avery and Lucy McRobert, Steve Young's photo challenge, detailed rarity and scarcity round-ups from around Britain, Ireland and the Western Palearctic with BirdGuides.com, news, views and book and product reviews, and answers to your birding questions from our panel of experts.
This three-DVD set, which is the culmination of nine years of field trips, covers all the resident and vagrant damselflies and dragonflies of the UK and Ireland. It covers every one of the 69 species to have occurred, including those which are now extinct. Additional species that may occur as vagrants or colonists in the future have also been included. Each species account includes a summary of the key identification features, multiple footage of male, female and often immature individuals, and includes comparison scenes discussing the key identification features between similar species.
A donation will be made to the British Dragonfly Society for every DVD sold to support UK dragonfly conservation.
It seems extraordinary that a bird native to the Pacific Ocean might be found so regularly in Western Europe (and particularly in Britain and Ireland), but Pacific Diver appears to have established itself as an expected, if still rare, vagrant to our region.
It is just over 10 years since the first British and Western Palearctic record occurred in North Yorkshire, and the transformation of the species from bewildering giga-vagrant to near-annual visitor is nothing short of remarkable. While the reasons for this must largely be down to observer awareness, there are perhaps other factors at play here. Whatever the reasons, there's no denying this bird has travelled a long way from where it was born to reach south Devon. more
A second new Pacific Diver of the winter was the highlight of another lively (and unseasonably mild) week that also saw the first Northern Wheatear of the spring reported at Christchurch Harbour on 20th.
The diver — another crisp juvenile — was off Broadsands, Devon, on 16–17th only, but a report of a possible off Slapton on 18th could well have related to the same bird. Despite neighbouring Cornwall having hosted at least two returning birds over the past decade, Devon has never previously recorded the species and you might argue that this was an overdue county first, even if the species remains extremely rare on our shores. Meanwhile the adult remained in Mount's Bay, Cornwall, while the juvenile was still commuting between East Chevington and Druridge Bay Country Park, Northumberland.